I originally started this post as a poem singing the praises of Flavia de Luce, but that got weird and somewhat creepy very quickly as Flavia is an 11-year-old girl. So instead, I shall list the reasons why this mystery series is worth your time. And I will double-down on my previous recommendations to read this book via audio if you have the opportunity to do so because it is brilliantly narrated. So, onto the list!
1. Flavia as budding chemist. She is a chemistry genius and has her own laboratory! For any woman who considered going into STEM fields of study but did not, or anyone who wants to raise a daughter who feels confident in her ability to do traditionally male roles, Flavia is a role model. She is smart, she knows she's smart, and she'll tell anyone who doubts her just how smart she is.
2. Family ties. There is so much that rings true in this series about what it's like to grow up in a family of very different personalities. In previous books, I thought that Flavia's sisters were really cruel to her and that the relationship between the sisters was really sad and bizarre. In the latest two books, the relationship between the sisters has softened, though it still has its ups and downs. And as I recall my pre-teen and early teen years with my brother and sister, I think it's pretty true to form. Siblings can be both horribly cruel and wonderfully kind, and that comes through so well in these books.
3. Village life. I feel like Flavia de Luce and Miss Marple would be kindred spirits. People underestimate Miss Marple's abilities because she's this kind and inconspicuous old lady, and people do the same to Flavia because she's an 11-year-old who gets around on an old bike named Gladys. However, Miss Marple solves mysteries all over the place whereas Flavia solves mysteries only in her immediate vicinity. Therefore, we really get to know the other characters in this book very well. For example, we spend hardly any time with the Inspector's wife, Antigone, but we know that Flavia loves her and looks up to her as a an ideal mother. And Flavia's stand-in for her father is Dogger, to whom she is intensely loyal. Their moments together are so sweet and touching.
4. The humor. These books center on a murder, but they're also about a very precocious and self-righteous 11-year-old who doesn't always understand the subtleties of the world around her. It's good stuff.
Hopefully this has helped convince you to at least add Flavia to your wishlist at the local library or bookseller! She's a treat, and I don't think you'll regret it!