ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Mystery, Young Adult

Fantasy Friday! Book Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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51uYkzBn5RL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Author: Frances Hardinge

Hardcover: 384 pages

Publisher: Amulet Books (April 19, 2016)

Awards: 2015 Costa Book Award – Book of the Year

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1419718959

ISBN-13: 978-1419718953

Amazon // Goodreads // Excerpt

Book Synopsis:

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2015, The Lie Tree is a dark and powerful novel from universally acclaimed author, Frances Hardinge. It was not enough. All knowledge- any knowledge – called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen. Faith has a thirst for science and secrets that the rigid confines of her class cannot suppress. And so it is that she discovers her disgraced father’s journals, filled with the scribbled notes and theories of a man driven close to madness. Tales of a strange tree which, when told a lie, will uncover a truth: the greater the lie, the greater the truth revealed to the liar. Faith’s search for the tree leads her into great danger – for where lies seduce, truths shatter …

My Thoughts:

 First off, let’s talk cover.  When I saw the cover for The Lie Tree, I had to know more.  I don’t know what it is about apples, but I’m a sucker for a book cover with an apple on the front.  The peel with writing etched on it makes this cover look a little dark and mysterious.  Seriously though, it is stunning.

This book was originally published in 2015, here is the original cover…


As much as I adore the cover with the apple, after reading the book, I think the original cover is a better fit.

I’m going to be honest here, I was apprehensive going into this book.  This year, I had been working on trying to read more YA books, however I had read 3 this year and each one fell flat for me.  I was starting to wonder if the YA genre just didn’t appeal to me…Am I too old for YA?  I’m happy to report that this book restored my faith in the YA genre!

Set in the 19th century, the story takes place on the remote island of Vane.  Here, we meet the Sunderly family, a dysfunctional family at its finest.  First off there is Erasmus Sunderly, or the Reverend, the Father who is so wrapped up in his work as a naturalist he cannot be bothered by his family.  Next we have Myrtle, the self absorbed Mother who seems to care more about frivolous things and public perception than her own children.  Howard, the favorite child, whose parents expect perfection from.  The Sunderlys even go as far to make him wear a special coat binding his left arm to rid him of his left-handedness.  Keep in mind that back in these times, people who were left handed were viewed as unnatural and even evil.  Lifelong complex anyone?   This poor kid is going to need some serious therapy.  This brings us to Faith.  Faith, the daughter that is overlooked and treated as an afterthought.

Faith was a well developed and complex character.  At the tender age of 14, Faith feels trapped between childhood and adulthood.  She is dismissed by everyone as being dim witted and boring, however she is quite the opposite.  She is incredibly intelligent and clever, however she has to dull her shine to conform to the traditional gender roles of women in these times.  Essentially, she lives in the shadows, but Faith has a thirst for knowledge.  Since Faith has the same interests in science as her father, all she wants is his acknowledgment and respect.  Unfortunately, her parents take advantage of her – her father exploits her need for approval, and her mother pawns off her little brother on her.  For the majority of the book, I felt pity for Faith, however there was definitely a darker side to her as well.  She is conniving, manipulative, calculating, and at times even cruel.  She has an inner turmoil, almost as if its a good vs. evil struggle.   In the end, only Faith can decide which will win out.

This is YA fantasy meets murder mystery with elements of science fiction woven throughout…. This was unlike any book I had read before. 

The plot!  It is so good.  The concept of a tree that feeds off lies and in turn exposes truths?  Finally! A YA book with original content! I loved the underlying themes within the pages of The Lie Tree; knowledge is power, traditional gender roles of women, science vs. religion, and the ramifications of lying to name a few.   I definitely enjoy a book that challenges gender stereotypes and teaches a lesson.  I could go on and on about it, however I don’t want to give away ANYTHING.  I want you all to read it and experience it for yourselves.  I was completely immersed in the story, it was definitely not predictable.  The tone of the book was eerie and dark, so if you are looking for puppies and rainbows, you won’t find any here.  Ever heard of after-death photography?  Yeah, me either…I was thoroughly creeped out ((insert goosebumps here))

 The best part is that Hardinge is not only a brilliant storyteller, but she is also an exceptional writer, a combo that I have had a hard time finding within the YA genre.  More often than not, I am finding YA authors that are either one or the other.  Hardinge, I like your style.  The themes and symbolism woven throughout this book is perfection.  I’m sure I didn’t pick up on everything, but let’s just say she is brilliant.  I will 100% be looking into her other works, as well as keeping her on my radar for the future.  I salute you Hardinge!

Bottom Line: This is the type of YA I had been waiting for!  A book with substance and depth.  It has all the elements of an engaging mystery, a dark fantasy, and a thought provoking sci-fi all wrapped into one.

Noteworthy quotes…

“The Bible did not lie.  Every good, Going scientist knew that.  But rocks nd fossils and bones did not lie either, and it was starting to look as though they were not telling the same story.”

“Quiet people often have a weather sense that loud people lack.  They feel the wind-changes of conversations, and shiver in the chill of unspoken resentments.”

“Her self-respect had suffered a head-on collision with love, a clash that generally only ends one way.  Love does not fight fair.  In that moment her pride, the gut knowledge that she was right, even her sense of who she was, meant nothing, faced as she was with the prospect of being unloved.”

“In the interest of Truth, I would lie.  I would deceive the world, then bring back knowledge that would benefit all of Mankind and perhaps save its soul. I would muddy the waters for a time, so that in the end they might run truly clear.  I would borrow from the Bank of Truth, but in the end would pay back in full and with interest.”

My Rating:

Star ratings (2)

ALL THE STARS!!! If you follow my reviews, you know I don’t hand these out lightly.

*Thank you to NetGalley, Frances Hardinge, and Amulet Books for a copy of The Lie Tree in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

 Frances_Hardinge_134Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.

Website // Twitter

25 thoughts on “Fantasy Friday! Book Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge”

  1. Yayy I am so glad you loved Hardinge!!! She is a beautiful writer, indeed. And I am now even more intrigued about this book if that was possible, “YA fantasy meets murder mystery with elements of science fiction woven throughout” – mystery + sci-fi! AH!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve read Cuckoo Song and A Face Like Glass, which I loved (definitely ‘5 star’ books for me). I can’t wait to read more of her books as well, including this one, which is on my shelf winking me as we speak 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review! I am so excited to read this book – the concept is so original. I know exactly how you feel about YA being a let-down at times – recently I’m not in the mood to read it at all (even though it’s been my go-to genre for so long). But this sounds awesome! I love stories that are eerie and dark. Also I have actually heard of after-death photography – somebody once showed me some pictures on Google Images and they are SO CREEPY. I really don’t understand why people used to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

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