As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
“Although it is pleasant to think about poison at any season, there is something special about Christmas, and I found myself grinning.” – I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
It’s Christmastime at Buckshaw and because of his dire financial situation Colonel de Luce has rented out the family pile to some film company. Famous actress Phyllis Wyvern comes to stay and the ever oportunistic vicar asks her to perform for the villagers of Bishop’s Lacey to raise money for the church roof fund. She and her co-star put on a performance of the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene for half the population of Bishop’s Lacey that’s not without its hickups. During the performance the storm picks up so none of the villagers can get to their home and they must camp out at Buckshaw for the night.
“Either way, the whole thing was a pain in the porpoise.” – I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
During the night Flavia, on one of her midnight strolls, finds another body, what else? The police manage to plow their way to the house and ground everyone who was there at the time of the murder as vitnesses. This doesn’t just lead to a good mystery, it also grounds all of Feely’s, Flavia’s sister, suitors in the house. I’ve mentioned before that I love reading about Flavia’s relationship with her sisters and in this book, despite the freezing cold outside, it begins to thaw. It was quite lovely to read about. I love all their little quirks, from their specific truce formalities to their banter and teasing. Flavia is also beginning to grow up, musing intelligently of live and her sisters. Bradley has done a fantastic job in pacing Flavia’s inner voice throughout the series, from child to, well not an adult but at least maturing.
“I lay for a long time in silence, staring at the ceiling. Was my life always to be like this? I wondered. Was it going to go, forever, i an instant, from sunshine to shadow? From pandemonium to loneliness? From fierce anger to a fiercer kind of love?” – I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
There is also a subplot wherein Flavia decides to catch Father Christmas. This might seem juvenile to anyone who doesn’t know Flavia, but it isn’t. Flavia doesn’t do anything halfheartedly. There is careful planning involved and, of course, chemistry. I found it hilarious that she would skip happily around Buckshaw singing “You’d better watch out…” after her detailed description of the plan.
“I had concocted the gunpowder myself from niter, sulfur, charcoal, and a happy heart. When working with explosives, I've found that attitude is everything.” – I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
I honestly think this might be my favourite book out of the bunch. Well at least so far, I haven’t read number 6!