Friday, February 15, 2019

Literary Friday: The Golden Tresses of the Dead {and} An Enchantment of Ravens



Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing two books with you that I read recently:  The first book is the latest in the Flavia de Luce Mystery Series: The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley, and a wonderful YA fantasy,  An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson.




According to Goodreads:

Although it is autumn in the small English town of Bishop’s Lacey, the chapel is decked with exotic flowers. Yes, Flavia de Luce’s sister Ophelia is at last getting hitched, like a mule to a wagon. “A church is a wonderful place for a wedding,” muses Flavia, “surrounded as it is by the legions of the dead, whose listening bones bear silent witness to every promise made at the altar.” 

Flavia is not your normal twelve-year-old girl. An expert in the chemical nature of poisons, she has solved many mysteries, sharpening her considerable detection skills to the point where she had little choice but to turn professional. So Flavia and dependable Dogger, estate gardener and sounding board extraordinaire, set up shop at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, eager to serve—not so simple an endeavor with her odious little moon-faced cousin, Undine, constantly underfoot. But Flavia and Dogger persevere. Little does she know that their first case will be extremely close to home, beginning with an unwelcome discovery in Ophelia’s wedding cake: a human finger.


My Review:

I'm an avid Flavia de Luce reader and fan: I've read all ten installments of the series including the one short story (eBook only) "The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse."  I have enjoyed the series immensely, but unfortunately I was disappointed in this latest installment for several reasons.

The first reason for my disappointment is Flavia herself.  She's now twelve, on the cusp of puberty (which seemed evident by her mood swings), and definitely NOT HERSELF!  I understand that if the series continues (which I hope it does) Flavia will enter her teens and eventually grow-up.  However, Mr. Bradley needs to think about how he portrays her because girls do not necessarily lose their God-given talents, confidence, and abilities as they become pubescent.  Flavia definitely seems to second-guess herself which is so out of character for her.  Dogger's character, as lovely as he is, dominates this first official mystery of the "Arthur Dogger and Associates" Detective Firm.  He catches all the clues, and Flavia seems flummoxed by them all.  I'm not buying it.

The second reason for my disappointment is the mystery is never really solved.  I like mysteries to have all loose ends tied-up like a pretty bow on a well-wrapped birthday present.  This one has way too many loose ends for my liking.  I would like to see answers in the next book because I'm not ready to give-up on this series.  Yet.

The third reason for my disappointment is the lack of explanation for how Buckshaw financially can remain in Flavia's hands.  She is the heir to the estate, and she also has an inherited role as a spy for His Majesty's secret spy organization, and it was my understanding that she was to be in training for that role.  I also dislike Feely's being married and sent away, and Daffy was MIA for most of this story.  I miss the sisters' interactions.  

I'm giving this one three out of five stars because it does have a few interesting scenes in Flavia's chemistry lab, and I do love the series as a whole. The elements of the mystery are interesting (yet icky), and  I also enjoyed the history lesson of the Brookwood Cemetery funeral trains.




According to Goodreads:

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.


My Review:

I chose this book because YA fantasy author Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) recommended it in an interview.  I've read a couple of her series with my daughters when they were teens, and I do love how she writes, so I took a chance with this book.  She said in her interview that this book has one of the best Faerie Queens she's ever read, and she's right!  It's fantastic, one of the best YA books I've read in a very long time.

Of course I loved that the heroine Isobel is an artist.  She's so good at reading people: it's almost as if she can peer into her subject's' souls and capture them in oil paint.  Isobel is part of a world that serves fairies via craft because it's fatal for fairies to create anything.  I do appreciate the world that Margaret Rogerson has created in An Enchantment of Ravens.  The meaning of the title is brilliant on a couple of levels, and it illustrates how perceptive and witty Isobel is.

The plot is fast-paced, and it was difficult for me to put it down at night.  I love how Isobel and Rook's love story develops: it's well-written and creative.  A few of the villains are so creepy and scary, but they were not nightmare-inducing; and there are more than a few surprising twists in the plot.  I also love how a character is not at all what he or she seems....such a surprise!  

I highly recommend this book for older teens and above.  I checked this book out from my local library, but I'm purchasing a copy to give to one of my daughters.  I'm even thinking about buying a second copy for our library at home.


How many of y'all are reading Their Eyes Were Watching God?  It's this month's book club selection, and we'll discuss it next Friday, February 22nd.


Go to the library this weekend and check it out!  You have plenty of time to read it before next Friday!



Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



4 comments:

  1. I always love your reviews and I have never been disapointed with anything you recommend. Have a great week end- xo Diana

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  2. I don't know the Flavia mysteries but I know what you mean when the character evolves and the author starts to change it somewhat -- not necessarily in synch with the past.

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  3. I love reading your reviews RJ. I haven't read any of the Flavia mysteries. Sorry you were disappointed this last installment. It's been a good Saturday for reading today!

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  4. Series books are tricky, the author has a tough job to keep the formula that made the characters and plot lines popular, fresh and interesting... there needs to be a slight difference to keep the reader intrigued but not loose the original attraction. Sorry you were disappointed, maybe the next one will be an improvement!
    Jenna

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