A few weeks ago my husband's sister recommended a series of books to me written by author Alan Bradley. Since I greatly respect her literary opinions I tried not to allow myself to be put off by the fact that the main character is an 11 year old chemistry genius with a penchant for solving crimes and goes by the name of Flavia de Luce, but really, I felt I had done my time reading about "gifted"children and their adventures by reading the Harry Potter series and seeing all the Potter related movies as well. I even watched a movie about the author, J. K. Rowling herself, as well as a documentary on the making of the various films and their diverse group of directors. As far as "child related" literature for adults, was this insufficient??
Apparently so, because just over a week ago one of my husband's colleagues presented me with a rather large carry bag, on loan and stacked full of the first 7 Bradley books about the notorious Flavia! (apparently the author will pen a total of 10 books in this series and has signed a deal for a movie or tv series of some sort as well)
I am nearly finished reading the first one in the bag: "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie". I am happy to admit I am thoroughly enjoying it! The character of Flavia is precocious without being completely unrealistic, she truly is a chemistry genius and reading about her experiments is both hilarious and educational. I am hoping that the rest of the crimes/mysteries she has to solve in subsequent books are more difficult to figure out the solution to than this one, but even if they are not I will so enjoy reading about them. Although Flavia is a bit of a scientific genius she is still in many ways just an 11 year old girl, which keeps the story grounded in a comfortable spot stradding reality and fantasy. Bradley writes in an attention getting and keeping manner. He knows how to utilize literary hooks without being redundant by not using them at the end of every chapter.
My husband's sister tells me that there are a couple of books in the middle of the series that she found to be somewhat below standard, as if the author was rushing to meet publication deadlines, but that they are still enjoyable. I look forward to comparing notes with her as I read through the series. I think, since the books are on loan to me, I will read them one right after the other until I am done. That will give me the best overview of the characters who, so far, particularly those who are part of Flavia's immediate family (2 sisters and a father) are quite interesting in their own right.