Attention: Alan Bradley just came out with Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, the 8th book in his Flavia de Luce series. Why does this need your attention? Well, if you didn’t already know about them, the Flavia de Luce books are definitely a fun series that deserves your time, and the release of a new book in the series is the perfect excuse to educate people about this fun and engaging mystery series. If you’re already familiar with the de Luce series, what are you still doing here? I just told you the latest book is out! Go get it, hurry! For people that haven’t read the series yet, do not follow those people and buy the latest book. There are a great deal of plot twists and turns in this series, and the best way to enjoy them is to start at the very beginning.
I suppose I should start at the beginning as well. The Flavia de Luce books follow the adventures of a young girl named… you guessed it, Flavia de Luce in a rural English town during the early 1950s. She lives with her two sisters and father in a sprawling country manor. The de Luce family has a rich (literally very obscenely rich) and storied past, but now it’s only these four in a giant manor, Buckshaw, and Flavia’s father has an increasingly difficult time maintaining the place.
Flavia is the youngest of three sisters, and resents the older two, Ophelia and Daphne, greatly, not just because of the constant malicious pranks they all pull on one another, but because is too young to remember her now dead mother, whereas her sisters still do, and frequently remind her of this fact. It’s a half playful, half cruelly spiteful relationship that a lot of siblings have. I won’t say I recognize it from personal experience, but I will say that my sister was totally adopted by my parents and that she actually grew up in the sewer raised by abnormally large rats and I would know because I’m the oldest. I do too know. What are you gonna do about it sis, huh? huh? And now I shall wait for her to drive all the way from Chicago to my place just to punch me and call me a poo-head.
These books aren’t just a family drama, although they do pull that element off very well. Flavia de Luce is a strange young girl with a keen aptitude for chemistry, and she uses this skill for justice. Specifically, she uses her curiosity and access to the manor’s old chemistry lab, built by some 19th century de Luce chemist, to poke around various murder investigations and solve them. There’s actually a startling amount of murder in this quiet rural town, about eight novel’s worth, but if you don’t let that weird you out too much, the mysteries are very compelling. I should also mention that Flavia doesn’t stay in her hometown of Bishop’s Lacey forever, although saying any more on that could be considered an unnecessary spoiler. I’m trying to be good to you people here.
If you love quirky detectives and suspenseful mysteries, this series is a real treat. Check out the first book, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. You might find you make it all the way through the other books and back up to ole Brinded Cat faster than you thought you could.