On this Mysterious Monday, it brings us great pleasure to share with you Alan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce novel, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d. The book is beautifully written, even in the creepy bits, and it has a cat.
Who is this Flavia de Luce?
If you’re not up on Flavia de Luce, don’t worry. We had never read any of her previous adventures, and we had no trouble at all finding our way through this book. Here’s the rundown on Flavia: She’s twelve, she’s into chemistry (I mean really into chemistry), and she’s rather good at solving murders. She is the sort of girl who names her bicycle Gladys. She is not the sort of girl to be upset by things that would almost certainly upset your average girl. Things like…oh, I don’t know, finding a dead man hanging upside down on a door.
But now I’m getting ahead of myself.
It’s nearing Christmas, and Flavia has recently returned to England from Canada and Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy (which I’m sure was every bit as dreadful for her as it sounds). Her father is ill in the hospital with pneumonia—so ill, in fact, that she can’t go and visit him. Needing something to do to fill the time and escape her annoying sisters, she agrees to run a simple errand for the vicar’s wife and walks into the most wonderful thing imaginable: a rather puzzling murder scene. The victim, a wood carver named Mr. Sambridge, is (as I have already mentioned) hanging upside down from a contraption on a bedroom door. Instead of screaming and running away (which is what we imagine most twelve-year-old girls would do), Flavia spends time examining the scene for clues as to who would have installed the old man in this device of torture.
It’s at about that time that a tortoiseshell cat wanders onto the murder scene, apparently unconcerned with the man hanging dead on the door. This cat makes another appearance later in the book. The cat is important, but not a major character—we are telling you this so you won’t be disappointed if you pick this book up expecting there to be cats on every page.
Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is beautifully and evocatively written, with sentences that grab hold of you and wrap themselves around you in the most pleasing way. The climactic scene is truly creepy, brought to bold life as it is by Bradley’s writing. When we imagine scenes from this story, we see everything tinged slightly gray, sometimes in a dreary way, sometimes in more of a silvery shimmer that says, “Here, look at this!” We feel as though we’ve found a new friend in Flavia de Luce, and we love seeing her mind at work, the way she connects and connects and connects…and is sometimes wrong. No, this is not the kind of cozy mystery we most often review here, but this is exactly the kind of book that makes us wish we could set aside everything else in life and read.
Very highly recommended!
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you buy the book through this link, Miss C and old SoLT may get some change for their piggy bank.