Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Creepy Reads Review: Flavia de Luce Murder Mystery Novels

In the last Creepy Reads Review of this year I would like to feature murder mystery novels by Alan Bradley. Just like Agatha Christie had her Poirot novels, Bradley has Flavia de Luce novels.

As usual, I am not going into the details of the plot nor am I going to reveal who the murderer is. ;)

The intended audience of the novels 

The main character Flavia de Luce is 11 years old and she loves chemistry, poisons, and solving murders. She lives with her eccentric father and two older sisters in the (almost ruins of a) mansion in the countryside of England, in the 1950's. This produces an intriguing mix for various audiences:

  • retro fans
  • Agatha Christie fans
  • other murder mystery fans too
  • people interested in historical depictions of the years just after the Second World War
  • the age of the reader can be anything from about 8 years to 100 years because the main character is a precocious girl with a witty sense of humor
  • last but not least: gothically inclined readers, because the main character Flavia and her family has some similarity with the Addams family and the Munsters. They are not vampires or anything, but their family relations and Flavia's interest to chemistry and poisons and murder do bring some very goth-y undertones to these novels

Witty and funny narrator

The language of these novels is very enjoyable. The narration of Flavia is smooth, her jokes are funny, and sometimes she has a very cynical and mature way of reflecting the world. Sometimes it's so mature that some readers might think her as an implausible character. One might doubt an 11 years old girl could make such analytical notions of the people around her.

But, she does come from a different world than we, the readers. She has lived and is still living some very hard times, just after the Second World War. It is also noted that she is not your average child but has a passion for science and a very analytical mind.
The first Flavia de Luce novel.

Not really a series

Each of the Flavia de Luce novels can be read as an individual, even though they do form a not so tight continuum. I actually do not recommend you to read them one straight after another, because of that. Since each is an individual, they have some repetition: in each novel the narrator must explain her family situation (and some other things too) again and again. It can be rather boring. But, if you read these books with enough time between them (at least a couple of months), they are very entertaining.

Final conclusions

I enjoyed reading the Flavia de Luce novels very much. Though maybe the first two (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie & The Weed that strings the Hangman's Bag) were a tad better than the rest of them. Partly because in the later novels the family relations of Flavia get more space. I do not find her family relations interesting mainly because of one reason.

Flavia's sisters are quite horrible to her and hence she as the narrator doesn't depict the sisters (nor other members of the family) in an emphatic way. Thus the reader gets a rather resentful picture of them. For me this resentment results in the way that I do not care for the characters, and I am not interested of what happens to them. So, I find those parts that depict Flavia's family and their problems a bit dull.

Luckily there are other characters, not just sisters and aunts and fathers. The character of the local inspector Hewitt is very interesting and has multiple layers. The dialogues between him and Flavia are superb.

A list of the Flavia de Luce novels can be found via Goodreads, for example.


  1. Sounds like a lovely read. I think I would enjoy the world depicted in the novels and the family relations more than the actual plot hehe. Half ruined mansion sounds like the place to be!

    1. I too love the world in the novels, very vivid and the narrator's way of describing things is beautiful yet funny! :)

  2. I do love me some dysfunctional families and smart kid detectives.

    1. The smart kid detective is awesome! Though in one of the novels I got a tad irritated that she still believed in Santa Claus. :P

  3. Sounds interesting! Thanks for the review!

  4. I loved all the books! Flavia is such a cool character and her crooky family is such a nice background. Did you read the other books from the series as well?

    1. I've read 5 out of 9 novels and tried to skim 2. The rest I could not yet find in the library. I noticed I got tired of that repetition I mentioned in the review, so I have to take a small pause from them. :D

  5. I read one of these novels in Europe - there was a book exchange in a hotel we were staying at, and that's how I met Flavia! I do remember quite enjoying it, and not just because I was starved for reading material, having finished the book I'd brought with me and not being able to find any English novels in the bookstores. lol

    1. How odd, since Alan Bradley is a Canadian writer! I would've imagined that his works are sold on both continents. :O

    2. I'd seen the novel in bookstores over here, but had just never bothered to buy it! :)

  6. Sounds like some books i really could enjoy :-)