When we last left Flavia de Luce at the end of The Dead in their Vaulted Arches, she was to be sent to a Toronto boarding school. I’ve always loved Bradley’s irrepressible heroine and cozy mysteries, and I especially love Flavia’s having adventures all around the Buckshaw estate. So I wasn’t quite sure about the new Maisy Dobbs-ish direction the series seemed to be taking, nor in the switch in locale, much as I love Toronto.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust retains some of that cozy mystery feel I loved so much about the series. A schoolgirl prank is interrupted by a skeleton falling out of a dormitory chimney, and the mystery behind this skeleton’s identity plunges Flavia right back into super sleuth mode.
I’ve always enjoyed boarding school stories, and I love how Chimney Sweepers gives Flavia the opportunity to interact with girls her own age, rather than the adults in and around Buckshaw. Bradley is great at creating vibrant, interesting secondary characters, and while I miss Dogger and other characters from England, I did enjoy reading about this new cast. The mystery itself is puzzling enough, and it was fun seeing Flavia out of her comfort zone, having to conduct experiments and hunt around for clues in a city she isn’t familiar with.
It’s somewhat sad to see Flavia grow beyond Buckshaw, though I suppose with the events in Vaulted Arches, there really is a big shift due in Flavia’s life. I do like the boarding school element, and admit the characters had begun to grow on me by the end.
Part of me is glad that the story ends with Flavia returning to Buckshaw, but that whole twist just makes the interlude in Toronto feel even more random. I can understand a complete shift in the series’ tone and setting, but if Bradley was planning to keep Flavia in Buckshaw after all, what was the point of a random semester in boarding school?
Overall, Chimney Sweepers definitely stands out from the rest of the Flavia de Luce series. It is far from my favourite in the series; I personally prefer the earlier titles (check out my reviews of Red Herring without Mustard, Speaking from Among the Bones, and my all-time personal favourite I am Half-Sick of Shadows). Still, it’s an enjoyable read, as all Flavia books are, and I’d be interested to see where Bradley takes this series next.
Thank you to Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love Flavia too! This series is one of my favorites. Like you I’m not sure if I want the stories to leave Buckshaw, although boarding schools are always fun settings.
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