skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (Default)
[personal profile] skygiants
Frances Hardinge's Fly-by-Night was one of my absolute favorite books that I read last year. Since I just reread it, it is also one of my absolute favorite books that I read this year, and so is the sequel, Fly Trap.

Overall, Fly Trap is probably not quite as good a book as Fly-by-Night. Fly Trap brings our heroine Mosca Mye to the locked city of Toll, which literally separates its citizens into those who were born under benevolent gods, and therefore have "day" names, and those who were born under gods classified as more suspicious and have "night" names. Toll-by-Day is pretty but hollow; Toll-by-Night is pure Dickensian Underworld. As a look at privilege, this is effective (and Frances Hardinge is definitely a good enough writer to sell it) but not super subtle.

Also there is no sequence quite as glorious as The One Where Saracen the Homicidal Goose Beats Up Everyone on a Floating Coffeehouse, although The Unfortunate Collision of Heists Involving Imposter Skeletal Horses does come close, and Mosca giving a would-be-revolutionary lessons in radicalism because she's offended by his misquoting is nothing short of glorious. ("Bring a notebook. We'll 'ave you lopping kings' 'eads off before you can say fraternity.")

Anyway, I say all this, but actually I love the book totally uncritically, because a.) I love Hardinge's writing beyond words and b.) I am SO INVESTED in the main dynamic of the book I don't even have words. Mosca and her companion (the one who is not a homicidal goose) have a dynamic that I think is really rare between a child-protagonist and an adult character, and not in any way pseudo-parental. It's an uneasy alliance growing inch by painful inch by inch into a partnership between two clever, suspicious, self-interested and untrustworthy individuals, in which every bit of confidence and loyalty has to be slowly and painfully earned - and therefore means ten times more than it would if it were any easier. I love it to a ridiculous extent and to sum up why I will give you a quote:

"I generally find," Clent murmured after a pause, "that it is best to treat borrowed time the same way as borrowed money. Spend it with panache, and try to be somewhere else when it runs out."

"And when we get found, Mr. Clent, when the creditors and bailiffs come after us and it's payment time . . ."

"Then we borrow more, madam, at higher interest. We embark on a wilder gamble, make a bigger promise, tell a braver story, devise a more intricate lie, sell the hides of imaginary dragons to desperate men, climb to even higher and more precarious ground . . . and later, of course, our fall and catastrophe will be even worse, but that
later is our watchword, Mosca. We have nothing else - but we can at least make later later."


I would read every story about Mosca and Clent selling imaginary dragons. Every one.

So, question for you guys: what are your favorite fictional partnership dynamics between kids and adults? [personal profile] batyatoon and I were trying to brainstorm some the other day and we couldn't think of many (though it did lead to us watching the first few episodes of TailSpin. There's one!)

Date: 2012-03-02 07:28 pm (UTC)
kd7sov: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kd7sov
I know this is a rather old post, but I just wanted to say. Your booklog of The Lost Conspiracy caused me to go and read it. And then make sure I read all her other books.

And now I'm desperately wanting to see Eponymous Clent in Milliways.

Date: 2012-10-28 03:05 am (UTC)
bookshop: illustrative art of a red-headed girl helming a steampunk airship, facing the wind, eyes closed. (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookshop

I could cry, i love this post / Frances Hardinge / Fly by Night / Clent and Mosca so much.

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