skygiants: Mosca Mye, from the cover of Fly Trap (the fly in the butter)
[personal profile] skygiants
"Frances Hardinge has a new book out!"
"How long will it be before [personal profile] skygiants posts incoherently about how much she loved it?"
"Eh. Maybe like a week? A week, tops."

In fact it was almost two weeks because I was, as you know, trapped in an endless wasteland of Sheri Tepper, but Hardinge's The Lie Tree redeems all. It's not my favorite of Hardinge's books, probably, but it's a GOOD book.

(Also there are totally lesbians in it? There are totally lesbians in it.)

The Lie Tree is Victorian historical, like Cuckoo Song was Jazz Age historical, and like Cuckoo Song it is REALLY INTERESTED in the ways that women are silenced, and the sometimes terrible ways they contort themselves to get around it. I mean, "it sucks to be a teenage girl in the Victorian era" is not a particularly novel thesis, but the more the book goes on the more Hardinge gives it knife-edges. Faith, the heroine of The Lie Tree, is quietly dull on the outside, and on the inside she's quietly dishonest and quietly manipulative and often quietly cruel, and quietly brilliant, and furious. She's got more in common with the villain of the book than she does anybody else. Her pet metaphor is a small, overlooked, vaguely torpid snake. I love her, OF COURSE.

(...and everyone else! I was just talking about this book on Twitter and I'll say there what I said here: one of my favorite things about Frances Hardinge is how she likes to sow a crop of unsympathetic women for the protagonist to hate, and then gradually forces you to admire pretty much every single one of them. I mean, she always does this. But perhaps more in The Lie Tree than ever before.)

Also, it's such an amazingly Victorian book! Like, Hardinge clearly thinks the actual Victorian era is as weird a backdrop as any of her completely made-up ones, and she's not wrong. Faith's father is a famous Gentleman Scientist, and the whole thing is wound through with earnestly terrible Victorian science, and creepy Victorian death photography (everyone loves creepy Victorian death photography!), and the stifling grip of knickknacks and rules and propriety, and the world-shattering effect of the idea of evolution on everything everyone in Victorian England has ever believed.

-- okay, the actual plot? The plot: there's a death; Faith wants revenge; her only weapon is a tree that will (maybe) grant the truth in exchange for lies. So she gives it lies, and she makes them spread. HIJINKS ENSUE, by which I mean, our heroine is directly responsible for quite a number of terrible and life-threatening things befalling other people. Sorry, Faith. You meant it for the best. (Well, sort of.)

Date: 2015-05-19 01:47 am (UTC)
hebethen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hebethen
Hwah, it's out already?? I think I didn't put in a request at the library... and new books are restricted from interlibrary loan... ahhh...

Date: 2015-05-19 02:35 am (UTC)
kore: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kore
Hardinge clearly thinks the actual Victorian era is as weird a backdrop as any of her completely made-up ones, and she's not wrong. Faith's father is a famous Gentleman Scientist, and the whole thing is wound through with earnestly terrible Victorian science, and creepy Victorian death photography (everyone loves creepy Victorian death photography!), and the stifling grip of knickknacks and rules and propriety, and the world-shattering effect of the idea of evolution on everything everyone in Victorian England has ever believed

SOLD

Date: 2015-05-19 03:04 am (UTC)
starlady: A woman in a sepia photograph wearing a military uniform (fight like a girl)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I'm just about to start this one, and after I finish it I'll only have not read Verdigris Deep. Which is your favorite?

Date: 2015-05-22 02:16 pm (UTC)
starlady: a circular well of books (well of books)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Fly By Night is the one I read first and I will always love it best, not only because I love Mosca to death but also because of how I found the book in a tiny shop in Northern Ireland (in…2005?) and how for the longest time it felt like a secret that only I and a few other people knew. I think Cuckoo Song is the most technically accomplished book she's written, but I actually in some ways would rate Gullstruck Island strongest overall. It is hard to choose!

Date: 2015-05-19 10:44 am (UTC)
littlerhymes: the fox and the prince (Default)
From: [personal profile] littlerhymes
I bought this on the weekend and I'm so excited to read it. Even more so now I've read your post, bc omg Victoriana! I love all things Frances Hardinge. :D

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