The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

by stephenpalmersf

Recent winner of the overall Costa Book of the Year, Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree is a YA novel set in mid-Victorian times, following the story of Faith Sunderly, daughter of the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, whose fossil discoveries have been causing controversy. Forced to depart decent society owing to scandal, Faith and her family find themselves on the isolated island of Vane, where, almost at once, strange things begin to happen. Faith is forced to endure the death of her father as well as much thrown at her by the locals and a number of competing archeaologists, resulting in a web of lies being cast… but who in the end will suffer, and who will break free?

It’s a super set-up, with great characters and a strong plot. The writing is quite “intense” in places, and perhaps the author did put in a few metaphors and similies beyond what might have been required; minor points, though, and this is an element of her style after all, so my comment is just personal taste. This highly-wrought style does suit the Victorian setting, I think. The great characters and plot are supported by a forward-thinking attitude – science versus religion not least, plus much by way of what a women can do and can’t do in Victorian times. (We are talking here about a main character called Faith, a Tree of Knowledge and a snake…)

There’s lots to enjoy and lots to think about. I really enjoyed this one.