There was one book I left off my "top ten list for 2013" which would have been right near the top. The problem is that I am quite at a loss as to how to review The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley. It is impossible to tell anything of the story without giving away the resolution to the ending of the previous book in the series, which left me with my jaw hanging open and my wife somewhat concerned about my mental state. Besides, those who've been reading this excellent series don't need me to summarize what happened in this book – it's already on their TBR list and they've probably marked January 14th, 2014 on their calendar, the day it hits bookstore shelves. (And it's doubtless a good thing you didn't see the happy dance I did when I managed to score an advance copy of this from Amazon Vine! I even told puzzled strangers in the parking lot of my exceedingly good luck.) Suffice it to say that it all begins with a murder on the little-used railway platform of Bishops Lacey.
Although it wasn't entirely clear (or maybe I just didn't want to believe it) this seems to be the final installment of the most charming series I've read in a while. Alan Bradley has such a clever way with words that I frequently found myself moved to laughter and sometimes tears by what I read, but mostly I just found myself moved to keep reading! I know I've probably said this about each of the other books in the series but it's the kind of writing that I'd like to read slowly and savor each word, but alas!, is nearly impossible when I can't put the book down. And it's what Carl Sagan was talking about when he said "A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." I'll be honest, for quite a few chapters this wasn't my favorite in the series (unfortunately, I can't tell you why) and it took me a while to get into it. But having finished now I would be a most ungrateful reader if I did not say: Thank you, Mr. Bradley!