Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley


Rating: 4 / 5

A few weeks ago I saw a copy of Speaking From Among the Bones, and the cover caught my attention.  It looked interesting, but much to my initial dismay, it was the fifth installment in a series.  So, I grabbed the first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  Much like how I previously stated that I’m willing to give a book a chance if the library has many copies, I’m also willing to give authors a chance if they’ve been successful enough to make it to a fifth book in a series.

Flavia de Luce is a precocious 11-year-old with a passion for chemistry, living at the family manor, Buckshaw.  The youngest of 3 daughters, Flavia has a typical love/hate relationship with her sisters, Feely and Daffy, a strained relationship with her father, Jacko, although that stems from his grief over his wife ‘s (and Flavia’s mother) death years ago during a mountaineering adventure.  One day Mrs. Mullet, the Buckshaw housekeeper and cook, discovers a dead jack snipe on the porch with a stamp pierced through its beak.  Later that night, Flavia overhears an argument between her father and a stranger, who mysteriously ends up dead on Buckshaw grounds the next morning.  Flavia’s father is arrested for the murder, and that is when Flavia takes it upon herself to figure out what really happened.

I loved Flavia’s character.  She is quirky, fun, and has a cheeky personality.  But as much as I loved her character in a book, I think in real life she’d be, quite frankly, annoying.  However, she is incredibly resourceful and mature in her thinking (but not enough to be unbelievable).  This is probably due to the fact that she has no friends her age, and therefore spends much of her time upstairs in her chemistry lab.  The story is set in the 1950s, so it is refreshing to read a mystery where all the technological advances (and social media avenues) that are ubiquitous today are still nonexistent.  Did I mention that the author is a man?  The fact that he can tell this story from a perspective of a prepubescent girl is impressive.  I can’t wait to dive into the next book in this series, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag.



  1. Sounds intriguing…and a somewhat different angle to the norm! I noticed that it is one of the featured books for this weekend’s radio show “The Book Report”, so have done a bit of review reading. There seems to e some mixed feelings, though most positive. The one thing that stood out to me was someone’s comment that the audio book’s narrator was really annoying, and put them off the story! The book show I mentioned plays excerpts from all their featured books, so I’ll decide that for myself. Would you say adults and teens alike would enjoy it? I’m always looking for age appropriate books for my teens.
    For others who love books like I do, the details of the Book Report show can be found on their website at bookreportradio(dot)com, the show runs through a brief outline of the weeks themed selection of books, with audio book excerpts, and the highlight for me is often the author interviews! Worth taking a listen to.

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