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I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows (2011)

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6781516,391 (3.96)230
Recently added bywhitefieldpl, TSS2017, MKB28, MargoHolmes, zilem, ktleyed, private library, rmarcin, Hinoki, BookKnight
  1. 40
    The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (ErisofDiscord)
    ErisofDiscord: A heroine with a very similar temperament to Flavia; Enola Holmes solves mysteries and finds missing persons, all while evading her very capable brother: Sherlock Holmes.
  2. 40
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (47degreesnorth)
  3. 00
    A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows and A Fatal Grace are cozy mysteries set in small towns. In each, the victim is disliked by many; thus, many have motives to kill. It is up to the ingenious protagonists to solve the crime.
  4. 00
    The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (47degreesnorth)
  5. 13
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Yells)

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» See also 230 mentions

English (150)  Italian (2)  German (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
Set in the 1950 English countryside this latest book in the series finds eleven-year-old Flavia de Lucia's father the Colonial has rented out the family home to a film crew for the holidays in a desperate attempt to earn some money to get them through until next year. Daffy and Feely are pretty excited as their favorite actress is in it, Phyllis Wyvern. Also in it is the famous actor Desmond Duncan and the actress Marion Trodd. And as usual the same Brish crew she always works with including the same director she always works with Val Lampman. Wyvern confesses to Flavia that she is actually fifty-nine-years-old.

Wyvern gets Lampman to agree, though he is not happy about it, to put on a show for the locals to raise money for their church roof. Wyvern and Duncan do the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet and Gil Crawford, a local, misses her lighting, so she comes over and slaps him across the face and then goes back to the stage where the lighting is now correct and performs perfectly, but the Vicar who had planned on having others perform after her, decides against it after that display.

Soon they realize that the snow is too much and everyone is snowed in and must stay for the foreseeable future. Flavia can't sleep and goes out in search of some company with Phyllis whom she knows stays up late watching her old films. She can hear one end as she makes her way across the house. When she goes into her room she finds her dead with film wrapped around her neck in a bow. She goes and gets the trusted Dogger and he says she was indeed strangled and to go and get the doctor. Flavia had noticed that someone had made up her face and dressed her in the outfit that went with the film that was playing.

Who killed Phyllis? Was it Val who it turns out is her son? Or one of the other actors? Or was it Gil or one of the members of the crew for some hidden reason? Flavia also plans to set off some explosive fireworks for Christmas Eve from the roof of the house. She has also been working on her secret birdlime formula for Father Christmas that she plans on using to slather on top of the chimneys so that he'll stick to them, or he won't and that'll be proof that he doesn't exist. Will she find out one way or another? Will she be able to figure out who killed Phyllis in time too? Flavia is a true delight to read about with her chemical mixtures and fanciful detecting trying to outwit the actual detectives while seeking the Chief Inspector's approval at the same time. Meanwhile, her two sisters treat her admissibly and she is forced to return the favor except when they are holding their truces. And she will need help from her sisters to solve this case. This is a wonderful book and a great read. I give it five out of five stars.


Older sisters are much alike the world over: half a cup of love and half one of contempt.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 34)

Theater, I suppose, is a form of mass mesmerism, and if that’s the case, Shakespeare, despite his chemical shortcomings, was surely one of the greatest hyponists who ever lived.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 129)

Because it is a well-known fact that more than two men shut up together in an enclosed space for more than an hour constitute a hazard to society.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 159)

Perhaps, I thought, whenever we began to breathe the breath of others, when the spinning atoms of their bodies began to mingle with our own, we took on something of their personality, like crystals in a snowflake. Perhaps we become something more, yet something lesser than ourselves.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 163-4)

One does not preach sense to a Church of England clergyman.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 165).

Well, there are those of us who create because all around us, things visible and invisible are crumbling. We are like the stonemasons of Bablyon, forever working, as it says in Jeremiah,

to shore up the city walls.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 201-2)

She was more than brave. She was British.

-Alan Bradley (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows p 222) ( )
  nicolewbrown | Dec 17, 2018 |
Still funny, still thoroughly enjoyable, but … not really more than three stars for me. (This one's about a visiting cinema troupe and a dead actress.) ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
Flavia doesn't even have to leave Buckshaw to have a murder to solve. Being snowed in at Christmas, her bicycle, Gladys, only leaves her protective covering to be glanced at. I really enjoyed this installment of the Flavia de Luce mysteries. ( )
  eliorajoy | Aug 28, 2018 |
LOVED the reader of this book! Really, I think the narrator is the whole reason I liked this so much. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
Loved this one as much as I did the previous ones. Simply adore Flavia, she's a riot. Can't wait to start the next book! ( )
  Tiffy_Reads | Mar 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 150 (next | show all)
The novel opens with Flavia skating past paintings of her long-dead relatives in Buckshaw’s portrait gallery. The east wing of her sprawling, ancestral home is unheated, she reminds us, so it was no trouble to flood the room and create her own private arena. As she skates she daydreams about a photographer stumbling upon her and snapping her photo, landing her in a famous magazine and simultaneously making her older sisters jealous and her widower father proud. The dream is burst, however, by the very real cold of her bedroom. Flavia, of course, is dreaming, and with that Bradley launches us into life at Buckshaw a few days before Christmas.

Like most 11-year-old girls, Flavia is teetering on the question of Father Christmas. Her older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, have horridly told her there’s no such person, but Flavia can’t quite believe it. So, to prove her sisters wrong she has devised a plan to catch the jolly old elf. Being the chemical whiz that she is, Flavia eschews amateur tricks such as nets and instead decides to brew a batch of birdlime, an extra-sticky glue used to hunt songbirds. Her preparations are interrupted, however, by the arrival of a film crew.

Bradley’s novels are, ostensibly, mysteries. Certainly, each one builds up to a murder, allowing Flavia to insert herself into the investigation so she can, with Miss Marple-esque skills, solve the case either before or at just the same moment as the police. Usually, her investigations involve sly interviews with villagers and many trips on Gladys, her bicycle. This time around, though, the murder is at Buckshaw and much of her sleuthing can be done by snooping through guest bedrooms and strategically overhearing conversations.

Despite the murder and subsequent investigation, Shadows is more about the de Luce family than anything else. It’s Christmas, after all, and along with the holiday’s religious implications are its familial ones. The de Luce family is an uncomfortable one, though, and filled with more than its share of secrets and things left unsaid. As Bradley’s series progresses, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the real plot revolves around Flavia’s simultaneous desire to understand more about the de Luces and nervousness about what she might learn.

Certainly Flavia can solve a murder, but matters of love and relationships continue to puzzle her and engage us, giving Bradley’s novels a much more emotional edge than your average drawing room mystery.
added by VivienneR | editThe National Post, Angela Hickman (Dec 23, 2011)
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows is a delicious, lighthearted holiday read best served by a crackling fireplace with warm eggnog – but please, hold the noxious compounds.
This is a delightful read through and through. We find in Flavia an incorrigible and wholly lovable detective; from her chemical experiments in her sanctum sanctorum to her outrage at the idiocy of the adult world, she is unequaled. Charming as a stand-alone novel and a guaranteed smash with series followers.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Amy Nolan (Oct 15, 2011)
The book is beautifully written, with fully fleshed characters, even the minor ones such as odd-job man Dogger and Mrs. Mullet, who rules in the kitchen.
Flavia de Luce may belong to a different time period, but mostly she belongs to the world of imagination, both restricting and expansive enough to allow many more visits to Buckshaw — as well as the laboratory of criminal concoctions still stewing in their juices, waiting to be unbottled in future books.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldred, SophieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bassett, JeffAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geraci, AlfonsoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heikinheimo, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hobbing, DianeDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jung, GeraldÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgaß, KatharinaÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perini, BenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Bronswijk, InekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Related movies
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...She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirrored magic sights
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot;
Or, when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.
- Alfred Tennyson, "The Lady of Shalott"
For Shirley
First words
Tendrils of raw fog floated up from the ice like agonized spirits departing their bodies.
Feely and Daffy didn't believe in Father Christmas, which, I suppose, is precisely the reason he always brought them such dud gifts: scented soap, generally, and dressing gowns and slipper sets that looked and felt as if they had been cut from Turkey carpet.
Father Christmas, they had told me, again and again, was for children.

'He's no more than a cruel hoax perpetrated by parents who wish to shower gifts upon their icky offspring without having to actually touch them,' Daffy had insisted last year. 'He's a myth. Take my word for it. I am, after all, older than you, and I know about these things.'

Did I believe her? I wasn't sure. When I was able to get away on my own and think about it without tears springing to my eyes, I had applied my rather considerable deductive skills to the problem, and come to the conclusion that my sisters were lying. Someone, after all, had brought the glassware, hadn't they?
...To Father we were, Daffy had once said, a three-headed Hydra, each one of our faces a misty mirror of his past.

Daffy's a romantic, but I knew what she meant: We were fleeting images of Harriet.

Perhaps that was why Father spent his days and nights among his postage stamps: surrounded by thousands of companionable, comforting, unquestioning countenances, not one of which, like those of his daughters, mocked him from morning to night. (chapter 3)
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
"The title of the fourth Flavia de Luce Mystery has been announced by Random House. It is … “I Am Half-Sick of Shadows”... This title supercedes the previously-announced “Death In Camera”.
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Book description
Eleven-year-old detective Flavia de Luce's family allows a film crew to shoot a movie on their estate. When the lead actress turns up dead, Flavia sorts through clues, trying to solve the murder.
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"Colonel de Luce, in desperate need of funds, rents his beloved estate of Buckshaw over to a film company. They will be shooting a movie over the Christmas holidays, filming scenes in the stately manse with a famous and reclusive star. She is widely despised, so it is to no one's surprise when she turns up murdered, strangled by a length of film from her own movies! With the snow raging outside and Buckshaw locked in, the house is full of suspects. But Flavia de Luce is more than ready to solve the wintry country-house murder. She'll have to be quick-witted, though, to negotiate the volatile chemicals of a cast and crew starting to crack--and locked in a house with a murderer!"--… (more)

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