Thursday, February 27, 2014

Flavia grows up

The dead in their vaulted arches cover
Not too long ago, I waxed rhapsodic about Flavia de Luce and how much I love Alan Bradley's mystery novels about her. 

But, wait!  There's more!

Soon after my post went live, the sixth book in the series came out, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches.  And this book just cements my love of this series even more.

There are a few things missed from this book that might disappoint some readers.  Mainly, there's not really a mystery; there is a death, but Flavia doesn't spend tons of time trying to solve it.  She's too busy reeling from something else.  Also, the delightful side characters that we've come to love in the previous books have smaller roles here.  We still see her sisters and her fathers and Dogger, and we get a wonderful peek behind the curtain at the woman who is Flavia's Aunt Felicity.  But we don't see the police force or the vicar quite as much.

This is the first Flavia novel I read in physical form; all the rest I did via audiobook.  I only did this in paper form because it came in so quickly at the library!  I did miss Jayne Entwhistle's glorious narration (the voice in my head is not nearly so good at imitating an 11-year-old).  But of all the books to read in physical form, I am glad it was this one because the feel of this book is quite different to the rest and in a way, it felt like me reading the book with my own inner (and older) narration was exactly the right thing to do at this time, as Flavia steps away from her childhood to a new life stage.

This book felt so different from the novels that came before it.  Flavia is almost 12 years old, and she is worried and saddened by the prospect of growing up, and she doesn't want her life to change from what it has been.  But, unfortunately, everything is changing.  Her beloved home is up for sale, her sister is leaving, she's witnessed half a dozen murders in about six months, and she's learned much more about the people around her than she ever knew before.  The Flavia de Luce that narrates this novel is still hilariously precocious and beautifully, achingly naive, but she is also much more introspective and thoughtful than she was in previous books.  Many histories are revealed here, things that were only hinted at in prior books, and in many ways, The Dead in their Vaulted Arches is the end of a story arc.  In fact, Bradley said exactly this in an interview online.  There are still four Flavia books to come, so it will be very interesting to see where he takes his characters in future.  I am eagerly anticipating what happens next to my unorthodox girl crush.  She's such a fun heroine, and I can't wait to see where life takes her next.

9 comments:

  1. I just picked up Speaking From Among the Bones so it will be a while before I read this current book, but I'm looking forward to it! It sounds like this current one is very much a coming of age novel and I love those.

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  2. I have not read this series yet, but it does seem I am missing out here.

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  3. So excited to read this review! I've read and loev the first 5 books and have been wanting to read this one.

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  4. All of a sudden I am a couple of books behind in this series! How did that happen given how enjoyable the books are. Need to rectify!

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  5. I agree that this book took a wonderful direction, both in plot and in Flavia's development. I was also happy when I read that Bradley doesn't ever want to really write a full-blown teenaged Flavia. So I think we're just going to ease into adolescence through the remaining books and that's just fine with me. I'm sure she can find plenty of trouble to get into over another six months or so!

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  6. Oh my gosh, you mean Flavia ages? I thought she was going to stay a precocious kid! I better get to the next books! I've only read the first two!

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  7. I loved this one and I'm really excited to see where Bradley takes Flavia and the de Luce family. :)

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  8. I can't wait to read this one! You and I both share a love for Flavia - she's wonderful! But yes, although I do want to see how Flavia grows, I'm not quite ready for it yet!

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  9. I can't wait to read this one, especially after the way the last book ended. You and I both share a love for Flavia. I can't wait to see how Flavia grows but I'm not quite ready for it yet!

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