As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust–Alan Bradley

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This is the newest of the Flavia de Luce books, which are completely charming and adorable. I recommend, as always, starting with the first book in the series. In this case, that book is “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.”

Flavia is a young girl (10-11 depending on the book) who lives in a large but impoverished home in England with her father and two older sisters. She loves chemistry and lives in the chemistry lab set up by her chemist great-uncle years before. She solves the local mysteries using logic and her chemistry skills.

In this book, she has been shipped to Canada, to boarding school. To the same boarding school her mother once attended. Her mother died in a mountain climbing accident not long after Flavia was born (which, seriously, the fortitude that implies is impressive) and who apparently may have been part of a secret society of spies of some sort, which Flavia is meant to be learning to join herself.

But boarding school is miserable. She’s awakened the first night by another girl, who thinks she’s the previous resident of her room, and who hides from the headmistress in the chimney, until she and the dead body stashed in the chimney come tumbling out.

The rest of the book is spent figuring out who the dead body in the chimney was, what it was doing in the chimney of all places, who the killer is, and what the mystery of the school is all about. Girls go missing on the regular, apparently, which is very concerning to Flavia.

This was not my favorite of these books, I think Flavia was not at her best here, but it was a charming addition to the series and I hope for more typical Flavia in the next book.

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