Author: Alan Bradley
Series: Yes - Flavia de Luce stories - this is #4 of the series
Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Historical Fiction
Short summary of the story: Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old girl in post-war (WWII) England. She lives in her families very old house (which has its own history). It's Christmas and the coffers of the family are at their usual low ebb. Thing is, Flavia is an experimenter, a chemist, and has an imagination for creating 'interesting stuff' which helps to put the family dysfunction in the background of her mind (usually). In order to help out the family money situation, her father has leased part of their dwelling to a film company for the making of a movie. The famous Phyllis Wyvern stars in the forthcoming epic ... Somehow the whole village is invited to a fund raiser (for the church roof) and then -- since it's a murder mystery ... someone dies. But who dies, and why? Flavia encounters the local police (again - she apparently has a history with them, this being the 4th book of the series) and, with her usual elan and perspicacity, finds several points of interest which help to solve the puzzle.
Note: I read this book for the Book Bingo, and set it aside a couple of times. I didn't care so much for the drama inherent in the story with the dysfunctional family, different people not 'fitting in' because of differences of body, mind or past experiences. However, I was really needing a book with part of a poem as its title, which is also HOL appropriate, to help to complete my card! So I picked it up yet again ...
Points to consider: There is a lot of general chemistry knowledge in the book and I found that fun to read after a while. Also, after a while, I found that the story was good, and I got used to the 'voice' of the heroine, and actually grew to appreciate it after a while. Perhaps if I'd read the books prior to this, I'd understand more of what was going on, but it works on its own. The mystery itself is good! I enjoyed the interactions of several of the people of the story.
What totally sold me on the book, though, was this:
"She must hate me."
"No. Hate is for haters."
When I read that, I realized ... 1) I don't hate and 2) there are others like me. Hate is just felt by those who embrace it and call it true for themself. Sure, a person can be upset and get angry, but 'hate' is something entirely else. This author, with those simple words ... it was like a blast of vorpal sunshine cutting through and dissolving smog into nothingness.
Goodreads has this to say about I Am Half-sick of Shadows:
It's Christmastime, and the precocious Flavia de Luce - an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving - is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. But she is soon distracted when a film crew arrives at Buckshaw, the de Luces' decaying English estate, to shoot a movie starring the famed Phyllis Wyvern. Amid a raging blizzard, the entire village of Bishop's Lacey gathers at Buckshaw to watch Wyvern perform, yet nobody is prepared for the evening's shocking conclusion: a body found, past midnight, strangled to death with a length of film. But who among the assembled guests would stage such a chilling scene? As the storm worsens and the list of suspects grows, Flavia must use every ounce of sly wit at her disposal to ferret out a killer hidden in plain sight.