Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shelf Life [adult]

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

When we last met nearly-twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce, her sagging ancestral home Buckshaw was about to be sold, she had just helped recover a legendary diamond from the clutches of a murderer and her older sister Ophelia (Feely) had become engaged. Oh, and her long lost adventuress mother had been found. (See Speaking From Among the Bones, same author). Virtually anything I now say about The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches would be a spoiler for those who love this series, as the resolution from the previous novel influences every aspect of its sequel. Needless to say, Flavia is embroiled in another murder, her sisters still torment her, her father is still distant, and her chemistry lab remains her private domain and sanctuary. However this time there is a definite atmosphere of growth and change surrounding both Flavia and the residents of Buckshaw. Bradley maintains Flavia’s young perspective with that same mixture of precociousness and naivety that has become so endearing in our heroine, but Aunt Felicity’s visit brings a whole host of revelations (we finally learn more about dear but enigmatic Dogger). Flavia’s growth as a person means she begins to live outside her own head a bit more; she begins to see others as they are, and begins to empathize with them too. She is naturally quite alarmed by this development in her personality, and her ruminations (plus the regular gallows humour) help maintain the wit of this novel, which is rather darker than the others in the series. For those who have not been properly introduced to Flavia, it would be best to start at the delightful beginning, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. For those chomping at the bit for Flavia’s newest adventure, be prepared to be delighted on two fronts – the story is a great yarn, and – spoiler alert! – Flavia is coming home to us.

Reserve a copy of The Dead in their Vaulted Arches at under the tag “shelf life reviewed”.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on January 23, 2014. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

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