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As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (7)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,13511612,223 (3.84)162
"Flavia rules! In this New York Times bestselling series of enchanting mysteries, youthful chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce once again brings her knowledge of poisons and her indefatigable spirit to solve dastardly crimes -- but this time, she leaves behind her beloved English countryside, and takes her sleuthing prowess to the unexpectedly unsavory world of Canadian boarding schools!"--… (more)
  1. 00
    Goodbye, Ms. Chips by Dorothy Cannell (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Flavia de Luce finds suspicious activities at her new Canadian school in As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, while Ellie Haskell investigates at her alma mater in Goodbye, Ms. Chips. Both humor and nostalgia characterize these engaging boarding-school mysteries.… (more)
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» See also 162 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Enjoyable...but probably my least favorite in the series to date. ( )
  wills2003 | Jul 30, 2020 |
Boarding school bloodhound
living with your mother's ghost
no new friends for you. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
3.5 stars ( )
  natcontrary | Jun 22, 2020 |


Flavia de Luce is one of my favorite detectives, and the series remains mostly fresh and true to its origins, even though this installment sees Flavia leaving her beloved Buckshaw Manor and traveling to an all-girls' school in Canada. The overarching mystery of this series (what happened to Flavia's mother) is developed just a tad more, and Flavia gets plenty of opportunities to use her knowledge of chemistry, to hone her detecting skills, and to examine another corpse. And so this novel begins. The entire thing must have been a challenge for Bradley given that most of the characters that have populated Flavia's life (and the novels) up until this point in the series were not present in this story, making for a very isolated and unnerving atmosphere, both for the reader and Flavia herself.

Already one of the quirkiest characters in detective fiction, Flavia's adventures as the new girl at a Canadian boarding school is truly different. The new life (for Flavia) at Miss Bodycote's is a great bit of comic writing, but overall the action in this installment is somewhat frenetic and disjointed, with the book swinging wildly between the story of Flavia's adjustment to a completely different environment outside the confines of Buckshaw, and also her subsequent investigation into the mystery of a body that appears almost as soon as she sets foot into her new rooms. The two narrative threads are tied together awkwardly, and I would have preferred a book that focused solely on Flavia's attempts to fit in with the other girls at the school while learning more about the strange cell of secret agents that she is being groomed to join. Or maybe even, making a few friends, while there...?

The biggest change in this novel is that Flavia is not freewheeling about her beloved English village unsupervised, but banished to an all-girls’ boarding school outside Toronto. Although there are some promising characters to make up for the change, none quite live up to the stock cast. (Nor are they given a chance to.) I think, also, that the mass quantity of teenage girls changes the dynamic of the book; the others work so well because Flavia is that rare, precocious child in a sedate, respectable adult world. So although you still get the joy of her gutsy first-person narration, the usual pleasures of a Flavia novel are somewhat diminished this time.

Also, the reader learns early that the boarders at the school have been chosen to learn a clandestine trade, but there also seems to be an even more secret cadre within the secret body....? Too big a deal is made of this issue for it not to be explained better, later on. (Which it is not.). The plot about this also seems excessively cryptic. And then, students have gone missing from the school. Does it not even occur to Flavia that their parents would have thrown a huge fit, or gotten the police more involved? The disappearances were supposedly explained at the end of the book, but the explanation was again inadequate and some of the details too incredible, even in a Flavia novel. I just wanted more resolution.

But despite the ungainly construction of the novel, Flavia still shines. She is heading head on into adolescence, and I am thoroughly enjoying her sudden awareness of her own emotional vulnerability, greater sense of how to use her power and when to step back, and most of all, the immense sense of homesickness that begins to change her perception of her family.

Don't get me wrong, I love Alan Bradley. He is undoubtedly one of the best recent mystery authors out there, in my opinion. He not only writes a main character that is completely different from himself, as she's a precocious pre-teen girl from post-WWII Britain and he's... not that..... with wit and acumen, but he also manages to write these books and market them as adult fiction, rather than YA. Not that a young adult couldn't read these and enjoy them, because they absolutely can! But I enjoy that they're open to a wider audience than they might be if they were marketed solely as YA books.

Those who read the Flavia novels know that Bradley ALWAYS gives us his now-signature Huge-Twist-at the end. Honestly, he is one of the VERY few authors who is ever able to surprise me. And I was quite pleased with his twist in this one....so don't miss it if you read the series. But the bottom line is that Flavia is growing up. We all knew it had to happen. The question has always been how Bradley was going to handle it. In my opinion, he's doing quite well indeed. Here's hoping that next year's entry into the series is less conflicted about the type of book if wants to be, and returns to the perfect marriage between character study and decently enthralling mystery. And maybe just a little more family involvement.

A solid 4 out of 5 stars for me, and please, do read this novel for yourself when it comes out in January.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an impartial review. With many, many thanks indeed! ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Flavia de Luce has been shipped off to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy in Canada to further her education. She is not pleased and feels that her family has abandoned her and no longer cares. She no longer has her wonderful laboratory to work in, her bicycle "Gladys" to ride, or Dogger who keeps the family land together and quietly protects Flavia and is privy to some of her escapades. She is on her own in a strange land. But all is not lost.

Upon her arrival to the boarding school, a charred and mummified body falls out of the fireplace chimney in her room! Ahhh...a mystery for her to solve. All is not easy as Flavia does not have access to the body to study it or a laboratory to analyze any clues she finds. She also find that there are goings on of a secretive type.

Flavia also learns more about her mother, as Miss Bodycote's is her mother's alma mater. Seems her mother was quite the student.

Bradley's writing style brings Flavia and her world to life. I've enjoyed reading the previous books and am looking forward to the other few that are coming next. ( )
  ChazziFrazz | Aug 22, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Bradleyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heikinheimo, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Fear no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust. (William Shakespeare, "Cymbeline (IV.ii) "
Dedication
To Shirley, with love and gratitude
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If you're anything like me, you adore rot.
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“Ghosts are most often seen by girls, and certain young men with an iron deficiency.”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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