As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley. ★★★★
This is the seventh book in the Flavia De Luce series. As this is a mystery series, the books are largely independent plot wise and you could probably read this one without reading the previous novels. However, Flavia constantly refers to people she’s met in the previous books. If you can, I would recommend starting with the first book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
My problem with mystery books is that once I read a enough by the same author, I’m generally able to figure out who did it. This more or less holds true for the Flavia De Luce series, although As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust threw me some surprises that I didn’t expect.
What makes this series so great is Flavia herself, a now twelve year old girl chemist who loves poisons. Flavia is a genius, very precocious, but she still is able to read as a twelve year old girl, likely due to her sense of drama and love of macabre. All in all, she’s a delightful narrator who manages to be both charming and hilarious.
“Tickling and learning were much the same thing. When you tickle yourself–ecstasy; but when anyone else tickles you–agony.”
(Flavia does not approve of Education)
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust is a bold change for the series. Flavia is sent away from Buckshaw to a girls’ boarding school in Toronto. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was bold enough since (spoiler alert!) she was sent back to Buckshaw at the end, which made this entire book pointless. This book could have been used to introduce a new setting and cast of characters which would be built up on over the course of subsequent books. As is, none of the characters are able to appear long enough to be memorable or gain depth.
I think the plot was a bit thin in this one, but Flavia continues to delight. I’d recommend this series to people looking for mystery novels with a fun central character.