Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review by Lauren - The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley

From Dagger Award–winning and internationally bestselling author Alan Bradley comes this utterly beguiling mystery starring one of fiction’s most remarkable sleuths: Flavia de Luce, a dangerously brilliant eleven-year-old with a passion for chemistry and a genius for solving murders. This time, Flavia finds herself untangling two deaths—separated by time but linked by the unlikeliest of threads.

Flavia thinks that her days of crime-solving in the bucolic English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacy are over—and then Rupert Porson has an unfortunate rendezvous with electricity. The beloved puppeteer has had his own strings sizzled, but who’d do such a thing and why? For Flavia, the questions are intriguing enough to make her put aside her chemistry experiments and schemes of vengeance against her insufferable big sisters. Astride Gladys, her trusty bicycle, Flavia sets out from the de Luces’ crumbling family mansion in search of Bishop’s Lacey’s deadliest secrets.

Does the madwoman who lives in Gibbet Wood know more than she’s letting on? What of the vicar’s odd ministrations to the catatonic woman in the dovecote? Then there’s a German pilot obsessed with the BrontĂ« sisters, a reproachful spinster aunt, and even a box of poisoned chocolates. Most troubling of all is Porson’s assistant, the charming but erratic Nialla. All clues point toward a suspicious death years earlier and a case the local constables can’t solve—without Flavia’s help. But in getting so close to who’s secretly pulling the strings of this dance of death, has our precocious heroine finally gotten in way over her head?

First Impressions: Alright so The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, or The Weed for short, is the second book in the Flavia de Luce series, the first being The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. (My review for that one can be found here.) I really enjoyed the first one, so I was very excited to start!

The Weed takes up not too long after the end of Sweetness, although it is not necessary to read the books in order. Flavia is back as her usual, hilarious self, once again tormenting her older sisters and snooping into things way out of her league. The novel is just as fast-paced and entertaining as the last with a couple laugh-out-loud moments, but I just didn't quite enjoy it as much as the first. I think it's probably just the sequel factor, because I can't quite pinpoint what it was.

Final Impressions: Just as fun, quirky, and entertaining as the first novel, and I cannot wait until the next one comes out!

Memorable Quotes:

- "While you've been gadding about the countryside, we've held a meeting, and we've all of us decided that you must go.'
In short, we've voted you out of the family,' Daffy said. 'It was unanimous."

- "If you remember nothing else, remember this: Inspiration from outside one's self is like the heat in an oven. It makes passable Bath buns. But inspiration from within is like a volcano: It changes the face of the world."

- "You are unreliable, Flavia," he said. "Utterly unreliable."
Of course I was! It was one of the things I loved most about myself.
Eleven-year-olds are supposed to be unreliable."

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