Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley | Book Review
Updated: Mar 20
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When a dead bird shows up on her doorstep with a postage stamp impaled on its beak, Flavia’s first mystery begins. Of course, finding the dead man in the cucumber garden is also quite exciting. As a self-taught 11-year-old chemist, Flavia is no stranger to challenges, but stringing together these two events certainly puts her to the test. And she is determined to solve the case before the police do.
Flavia reminded me of a young Sherlock Holmes. And her love of chemistry was intriguing. I’ve read a few reviews that say Flavia’s knowledge was unbelievable. True she is an 11-year-old chemist, but she isn’t perfect. She’s memorized information from books, and experiments on items she steals from her sisters. Throughout her investigations, she makes childish assumptions that are wrong, but to her seem perfectly logical at the time. But Flavia was the only part of Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie that drew me into the story.
While Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a mystery, there is very little actual mystery at all. The most disheartening part of the story is when Flavia spends almost half the book searching for answers, only to have her father explain everything to her in a monologue. I wanted to see Flavia unearthing more facts for herself, and being able to confirm her suspicions without having an adult tell her whether she was right or wrong. She didn’t start diving full on into the investigation until the book was almost over.
The scene-setting was also borderline historical fiction at times. The history of buildings and minor characters filled the pages with information that did not pertain to the story. This drew away from the feeling of a mystery, and Flavia was swept up in telling the reader facts about her town that were unnecessary. There is also a large portion about the history of postage stamps. If you are a collector of stamps or a fan of historical fiction you would most likely enjoy this novel. If you are searching for a riveting mystery, this may not be the book for you.
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