A guest post by Jacqui Talbot
When I was ten, my uncle gave me a chemistry set, and with my first successful experiment, I was hooked.
There were a few less successful endeavors.
Like the time I decided to make a homemade stink bomb. Nothing too difficult. Just cut the heads off some matches and stick them in a bottle with some ammonia. Give it a swirl and then leave it for 3-4 days. Et voila! A perfect tool with which to prank my older siblings.
That is, of course unless a certain person—who shall remain nameless—decided to alter the recipe for maximum stench, and then forgot about it, leaving the bottle in a kitchen cupboard for two weeks during one of the hottest summers on record. And if that nameless (and blameless) child’s stepmother happened upon said bottle, gave it a little shake, and then opened it…. You get the picture. I was grounded for a month and the kitchen was uninhabitable for almost that long.
And then there was the incident with that batch of super-charged homemade gunpowder. (I was trying to make my own fireworks and wound up losing the porch and my eyebrows in at the same time.)
The point is that I have two great loves in my life: chemistry and the written word.
So, as you can imagine, when I discovered Alan Bradleys’ intrepid protagonist, Flavia de Luce, I was entranced. A beguiling cross between Pippi Longstocking and Sherlock Holmes, Flavia is an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry (specifically poisons) and a penchant for crime solving.
You can see why I love this kid.
She stars in seven novels, each one told in first person with some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. To say that Bradley has a way with words is like saying Michelangelo was handy with a paintbrush. The way he crafts the language is mind-blowing. Here’s the first line of the fourth book in the series: I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS:
“Tendrils of raw fog floated up from the ice like agonized spirits departing their bodies. The cold air was a hazy, writhing mist.
Up and down the long gallery I flew, the silver blades of my skates making the sad scraping sound of a butcher’s knife being sharpened energetically on stone.”
*Sigh* See what I mean?
If Flavia sounds like a character you want to meet, I recommend starting with book one in the series, THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE:
Just be careful when you dive in. Because when it comes to Flavia, you never know what lurks beneath.
But when it comes to memorable characters, that’s not really a bad thing, is it?
About the Author:
Jacqui Talbot is a book worm, devoted Whovian, and certified fantasy geek. When not pursuing her dream of becoming a full-time writer, she spends her time learning different languages (six and counting) and being a nuclear chemist. Her current projects include SPINNERS, a YA supernatural thriller set on the Choctaw Indian reservation where she grew up, and KARMA AND CHEMISTRY, a MG fantasy adventure featuring a twelve-year-old protagonist who uses science to battle dark magic.