I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley

Dogger, the manservant at the Flavia's palatial but decaying home, suffers from fits of the terrors, a legacy from his experiences in a Japanese-run prisoner of war camp.

 

Flavia, eleven-year-old Flavia, has just eased him out of one of these terrors, banishing his ghosts and letting him recover while she looks out at the pre-Christmas snow and reflects aloud on the billions of oxygen and hydrogen atoms it takes to make the "stiff water" of snowflakes, continuing her monologue until he slips into sleep.

 

These moments of compassion and companionship fleck the narrative of these books with bright points of poetry that make me wish I knew Flavia and that, if I did, I would be one of the people with the insight to see her for who she really is and not just to dismiss her as just another precocious girl.

 

I know. Flavia is a fictional character. But still... that's what makes fiction worth reading.