The Lie Tree was a non-winning nomination in our Great Middle Grade Reads Book of the Month last year. I thought it sounded good so I added it to my TBR. Then I saw it in the library….
This one contributes to my GMGR A to Z list, although I think it’s a bit dark for MG, and also to my Mount TBR Challenge, which is looking very slow at present. Must do better!
The Lie Tree
by Frances Hardinge
The leaves were cold and slightly clammy. There was no mistaking them. She had seen their likeness painstakingly sketched in her father’s journal. This was his greatest secret, his treasure and his undoing. The Tree of Lies. Now it was hers, and the journey he had never finished stretched out before her.
When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. Searching through his belongings for clues, she discovers a strange tree. A tree that feeds off whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets.
But as Faith’s untruths spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter…
This book took an inordinate amount of time to get going, and I really crawled through the painstaking set-up of the problem, the flight to an small island, the islanders, the way her father behaved… and since her father was still alive at the point I was bored stiff, it was nearly a dnf. Then he died. Well, okay, he and his daughter did something really interesting just before he died. Talk about a cliff-hanger on the DNF front.
After that, it’s excellent, apart from some niggles over tide issues, some major mixing up of who’s who in my brain (especially the case when names are similar, but also suggest lack of character development). It’s very scary, leaves you guessing even after you think it’s all solved, and I felt it was probably too dark for middle grade readers. But then, I enjoyed Lockwood & Co more, and it’s in that gothic ilk.
Worth a read if you fancy something in the Wilkie Collins line for teen readers.
And it’s got an interesting cover.The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge 'very scary, leaves you guessing even after you think it's all solved... probably too dark for middle grade readers... Wilkie Collins for teen readers' #LieTree #bookreview Click To Tweet
And I’m glad we don’t have these kind of trees in real life! #30DaysWild
8 thoughts on “Book Review | The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge”
I don’t read MG but this sounds compelling – good review, Jemima. As I’m entering the IWSG anthology competition this year – don’t ask why, please – and it’s MG, I need to read some. The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell is on my desk to read, and last year I read and reviewed Gary Paulsen’s Hatcher. But I can’t find ones suitable for the theme: Historical – Adventure/Fantasy; whatever IWSG means by that.
I couldn’t make head nor tail of Historical – Adventure/Fantasy. After a while, I decided that Fantasy/Historical – Adventure may be what I should be tagging my books! So I’m taking it from there…
There’s such a variation in MG books, and with some, like The LIe Tree, I wonder whether they really should be. It seems that if you’ve got the main protag in the right age group, it counts. Oh, and not a hint of sex, although a very mild crush might be allowed. Violence, though, well … from Tom & Jerry to Game of Thrones seems fair game in the US, but Aussies don’t like any violence unless its clearly and fairly written (and no gore). Maybe I should write a post on this sometime. I have 11 years experience, after all!
I’m interested you couldn’t make head nor tail either, Jemima. I’m asking the same question within my IWSG post on Wednesday. Your suggestions about age and content are helpful – and I look forward to your post sometime. Katherine Rundell’s The Wolf Wilder is under Historical and Middle Grade and Fantasy and Adventure on Goodreads, so I’m going to read that next.
Great review. Not sure it’s a book I want to read, but it’s a good review 🙂
I kept wondering why I’d voted for it on the BOTM thread!
I read this last year and loved it – in fact I read part of the opening section at a Women’s Library book event recently. I didn’t find it slow to get into at all. I thought it was fascinating and very appropriate for GWL: a strong 19th century heroine who wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps as a geologist but was held back by her sex, and the various role models, good and bad, of how to be a woman in a man’s world: flirtatious mother, the geologist’s wife, the two women whose names I can’t remember but who turn out at the end to be in a same-sex relationship. My quibble would be the supernatural element – I thought there was a great story there without that. But then she’d have had to call it something different! It won the overall Costa Book of the Year prize which is something. We have it in the YA section, I agree it’s not really middle grade.
Maybe I was puzzled over it. And I may have read too many ‘Girls Can’ books recently. I think if you come to it fresh, it’s good. If you don’t, it’s yet another ‘don’t you complain you can’t do things, look at what girls had to put up with 100 years ago’ book. That’s really what caused the yawn – that and too much information in the blurb.
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