It is the summer of 1950–and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of inexplicable events: A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath.
For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. “I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn’t. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.” — Goodreads Description
This was a pretty lovely read, and I think if I had been younger, I might’ve enjoyed it more.
♦ On the upside ♦
Flavia was adorable! She’s into chemistry, very no-nonsense about the state of affection in her family and a very, very curious child.
There was a lot of culture shock on my part, most likely due to somehow expecting the story to be set much earlier than it was really set (it says 1950, so I have no idea why I thought differently), but it was a good kind of shock. It was really interesting to read about Flavia’s world and how things sort of worked back in the day.
♦ Favourite Quote ♦
Nobody loved me, and that was a fact. Harriet might have when I was a baby, but she was dead.
And then, to my horror, I found myself in tears.
I was appalled.
♦ On the downside ♦
Unfortunately, the mystery just dragged on for too long. I have a limited attention span as it is because I am a goldfish, and this was really trying for me. I wanted to know all about the mystery, but it just took forever and there was so much unnecessary yammering about things unrelated to it. :(
Flavia was often too adorable. I know, I said it was a good thing, but eventually it gets old when the kid is just reciting random chemistry babble. Especially to someone who gloriously flunked chem in high school.
I also think that the family dynamic could have benefitted from somebody who actually cares about Flavia. She must lead a pretty loveless life (obviously, because she’s dead serious in the quote I included) and that’s a shame considering that she has two sisters, after all. An absent father I understand, even some sort of sibling rivalry, but there’s hardly any love shining through at all. I never know whether they truly care when she’s missing or whether it’s just for appearance’s sake, you know? That’s pretty frustrating to read about.
♦ Should you read it? ♦
Tough question. You should pick it up if you like small mysteries and don’t mind that the book could’ve benefitted from some heavy editing to clean up some of the “useless” information. It’s a nice read for a younger audience around Flavia’s age.