Author: Alan Bradley
Provided Synopsis: Hard on the heels of the return of her mother’s body from the frozen reaches of the Himalayas, Flavia, for her indiscretions, is banished from her home at Buckshaw and shipped across the ocean to Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Toronto, her mother’s alma mater, there to be inducted into a mysterious organization known as the Nide.
No sooner does she arrive, however, than a body comes crashing down out of the chimney and into her room, setting off a series of investigations into mysterious disappearances of girls from the school.
Review: At the end of this series’ previous installment, the de Luce family’s ancestral duty is revealed to Flavia, along with her place in it. Therefore, she is shipped off to Canada to attend her mother’s alma mater and follow her path.
Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy, however, is not a fit place for our heroine. As she even comes to reflect to herself, she needs to be surrounded with facts and the ability to stand upon the grounds of chemistry in order to survive. Flavia spends the majority of this book feeling off her game as she must navigate through conspiracy and a set of rules that hardly ever allow her to ask questions or receive answers. While the new cast of supporting characters in this book could have their moments, it was impossible not to notice what was missing.
The joy I receive from this series is the charm of it. Flavia is precociously engaging, but I have come to realize that her home — the hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey — and the inhabitants of this country village bring a great deal of the story together. I missed Gladys, Dogger, Daphne, Ophelia, Father, Inspector Hewitt, the vicar and his wife, and Mrs. Mullet; I felt adrift without the village landmarks as familiar to me as they are to Flavia. I don’t think a change of scenery worked well, but I will do my best to see what remedies the next book can bring to the misstep of this one.
As for the mystery: some of it was intriguing while the rest came off as extremely convoluted. In the grand scheme of what this excursion to boarding school tried to do for the series I am left unsatisfied and with plenty of questions that need answers. My heart is breaking a little at having to give a book in this series such a low rating…
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The expected US publication date is January 6, 2015).