AS CHIMNEY SWEEPERS COME TO DUST
BY ALAN BRADLEY
As I’ve said before the Flavia De Luce novels are my absolute favourite and us fans have been counting down to the seventh installment in this fantastic series – As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust – for what seems like forever! The last book The Dead In Their Vaulted Arches finished on a most exciting and unexpected cliffhanger.
Here, we pick up our brilliant young Flavia at her impertinent best as she finds herself “banished” from her beloved Buckshaw home in Bishops Lacey and “packed off” to her mother’s old boarding school in Canada.
Flavia takes an instant dislike to her escort across the Atlantic – Ryerson Rainsmith: “On paper, the man was already dead.” When she finally arrives at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy she finds it full of bizarre rules, an intimidating headmistress (“The woman’s moods appeared to be connected to some inner weathercock that swung wildly round with every word. One moment she was almost tender, and the next a harridan”) and a murderess among the teachers. All isn’t as it seems with the resident girls either who disappear with alarming regularity.
Flavia starts to realise that the game is afoot and as a budding chemist and amateur poisons expert, she is soon on familiar ground when a body falls from the chimney in her room and she is dealt another gruesome puzzle to investigate. Through the unraveling of this mystery, Flavia begins to discover what it means to be her mother’s daughter and what the true purpose of the Academy really is.The real joy in Alan Bradley’s cult novels are the characters which are so fleshed out and full of adorable eccentricities that I really do love them and miss them. Whilst the teachers and pupils at the Academy are as mad and chilling as I’d expect, they weren’t quite a match for my Buckshaw favourites – Father, Daffy, Feely, Dogger, Mrs Mullet, Gladys the bike etc. Luckily, Flavia kept their memories alive for the reader by recalling their traits and sayings during spells of homesickness.
This is another brilliant book in the Flavia De Luce series and my heart sang when I read the ending which surely promises more to come?
Thoroughly enjoyable stuff, I tore through it and find myself pining for the next episode already. Great writing. Viva Flavia!
SOUTHSEA BOOKWORM RATING: 8.5/10