Book Review

Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

Published: January 6, 2014

Number of pages: 358

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Genre: mystery, crime

Audience: older audience

Rating: 3/5 owl hoots


Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is banished from Buckshaw and travels to Canada to be educated at Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy. Her first day of school hasn’t started yet and already there’s trouble afoot when a charred body comes tumbling out of the chimney, wrapped in the Union Jack flag. Now attending classes and budding with her schoolmates, Flavia is faced with many challenges than in Buckshaw as she pieces together the mystery. Rumors has it that Miss Bodycote’s is haunted and girls are missing, but Flavia allows nothing to get in her way as she attempts to crack the case.

My Review:

I can’t believe Flavia is in Canada! I was so excited to hear this after reading the last book because here was a chance to see her in a strange country as she adjusts to her foreign surroundings. Although Flavia is adventurous and loves a good challenge she doesn’t stop to complain about Canada’s backwards ways, which I thought was pretty funny! But as long as there’s a dead corpse lying around Flavia will always feel right at home.

However things get a little tricky with solving the mystery as Flavia faces annoying obstacles. The clues and list of suspects aren’t as clear like they used to be. But she learns that there are things in life that are uncertain but eventually become clear as a straight white line that you follow. Aunt Felicity was right to say this while Flavia adjusts to her new environment learning how to survive on her own. Poor lonely Flavia!

Miss Bodycote’s school is pretty interesting but also leaves open questions like, are they training girls to be spies or assassins, or both? And what’s the deal with the schoolgirls? Do they, like the teachers have motives of their own? The finishing school holds so many secrets that it’s no surprise things like disappearing girls, haunting ghosts and occultists exist behind the stone cold walls of Miss Bodycote’s. While poor Flavia is left to her own devices with unexpected help from friends (and foes).

This book is a turning point in the series as we see Flavia outside her normal surroundings, away from Buckshaw and thrown to a strange new country, while picking up new tricks from Miss Bodycote’s. With all the distractions from school and challenges with the staff I was getting a little worried about Flavia, but she manages to stay on her feet and stick her nose up. To me this was more than just another mystery story, but a coming-of-age moment for Flavia de Luce as she learns to grow up to be a stronger, confident young lady in true Flavia fashion.


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