Wednesday, December 17, 2014

  As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

Oh, my,  this Flavia DeLuce is a smart kid.  Flavia is now twelve years old and is sent from her home in England to Canada to boarding school.  The reasons are a big mystery that I don’t think are ever really addressed.  We only know Flavia’s mother and aunt were students at this same school and we are teased with the mystery of a secret. As a former student, her mother is revered.

  Flavia is horribly homesick and stuck in a place she thinks does not understand her talents.  Coupled with the confounding secret 
(she knows she is being tested but she is told not to trust anyone) she decides, as usual, to take things into her own hands.

And she must.  Because the first night in her new surroundings, in a lonely bedroom, she is attacked by a fellow student and a body falls out of the chimney onto her floor.  The story takes off from there.  You can’t help but go along for the ride.

Flavia is told the school is haunted, three students recently and suddenly disappeared, as soon as she seems to befriend someone she is left alone again, the school matron runs hot and cold with her, sometimes giving Flavia a punishment that only benefits Flavia, and other times acting as if she would wipe her shoes with her, the school doctor and his wife are portrayed as rather sleazy, not to be trusted.   

I found the large cast of characters, some not even physically there, a little confusing, but in the end as Flavia figures out who the body belongs to and how it got inside her chimney and who put it there I found myself thinking, “ohhhh yeah, ok, I see where that went.”  Obviously Flavia is a lot smarter than I am. 

Anyone and everyone will benefit from Flavia’s company but wow, if you have a pre-teen reader in your household, you will be well advised to introduce Flavia into their life.  This isn’t a book you’ll find in the children’s section at the bookstore, but there isn’t anything in it that I wouldn’t share with a preteen/teenager.  There is murder, of course, but tell me what they watch on TV or see on YouTube is wholesome.  Flavia is a smart, innovative, savvy young lady and anyone will learn from her as she deduces these mysteries.   What a role model!