I first read Frances Hardinge years ago when I received a free ARC of Fly by Night. I remembered her name because Fly by Night was very well written and original, and so when I saw The Lie Tree in the store a few weeks ago I didn’t hesitate to buy it — authors who write original stories well are bound to do more of the same, right?
Let’s just say that The Lie Tree makes me want to go out and buy ALL of her books.
Faith Sunderly and her family have been chased from England by scandal rocking her naturalist father’s reputation. They arrive on the island of Vane laden with boxes of his papers and specimens. Erasmus Sunderly’s foul mood and secretive nature don’t make his family many friends on Vane, and when his body is found hanging in a tree Faith is determined to discover who his murderer is. Her investigations turn up more secrets than she bargained for, however, and soon it becomes clear that her father had a lot more secrets than he was letting on — secrets that could threaten Faith’s life, too. And it all started with one little lie.
First off, plot? Awesome. A tree that lives on lies, bears fruit that gives the consumer visions of truth related to the lie told. A murder mystery, fantasy, and bit of history wrapped up in one. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like this before. Very original, fast-paced, interesting, and more to the point — well written! I was drooling over the words, the sentences, the similes and metaphors. Granted, a younger reader with less interest in the way things are written might not appreciate it as much, but I want to reread just to study the way words are put together again.
Faith is a great narrator. A bit irritating sometimes, but only because she’s real. She was determined to remain committed to the memory of her father — even though we saw that her father was a bit of a terrible person who had no time for his daughter, and even kicked her out of a carriage to make room for his precious plant. As a reader, I was rooting for her to forget him. But that isn’t very realistic. Most children want their parents’ approval, no matter how unlikely it is that they’ll get it. Aside from that though, Faith is smart, curious, and brave, all things that make her likable and easy to relate to.
This was an excellent, page-turning book. Highly recommended!