Thank you NetGalley and Amulet Books for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered–a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiousity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing –like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.
In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies–like fires, wild and crackling–quickly take on a life of their own.
I’ve been a fan of Frances Hardinge’s since her first book Fly By Night was published in 2005 and it was an enormous success with the Mother Daughter Book Group that I hosted at my library. Since then I’ve learned one thing when picking up a book by this well-respected author: expect the unexpected. She excels at crafting unique and charming stories with menacing undertones, and The Lie Tree is no different. It’s a complex narrative of interwoven storylines that are bleak, terrifying, mysterious, and lovely. Faith is a wonderful character you can’t help but be captivated by. At thirteen during the Victorian Age, she’s no longer considered a child, yet neither is she a woman. A confusing time for any young lady. But when you add in her complicated relationship with her parents, well, things get even more murky. At the heart of the novel is Faith’s devotion to her father which continues after his death. To be perfectly honest, given the rather dismissive and neglectful way he treated her when he was alive, her loyalty was by turns perplexing and admirable. Possessing a mind of keen intelligence Faith also chafes at the restrictions placed on females by Victorian society. She wishes nothing more than to follow in her father’s scientific footsteps, yet she realizes she will have a long and difficult road ahead of her before she can attain her dream. The mystery is fascinating and in a way is reminiscent of Hamlet. While I wasn’t surprised at the identity of the murderer, that didn’t make the plot any less compelling. The fantasy elements surrounding the Lie Tree and its dangerous fruit, doesn’t really come into play until the second half of the book, but it adds in another layer which further explores society norms. The Lie Tree technically falls under the broad heading of children’s literature, but I would also say it’s akin to classics like Anne of Green Gables and To Kill a Mockingbird that feature non-adult characters yet still are wildly appealing to those who have long since left their childhood behind. It’s a story that will appeal to fans of historical fiction whether they’re thirteen or thirty-plus. It’s an exquisite tale that shouldn’t be missed!