May 9, 2015

Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.

The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

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 Faith wants to be loved, but her parents aren't very fond of her. She's extremely bright, but in the Victorian age that doesn't matter much. She wants men and women to be equal, so she can show what she can do, but that isn't possible in her world. The family arrives at the island Vane. Because of a scandal it's better if they move to a secluded area for a while. Only there's no escaping the gossip and soon everyone on the island is shunning the family.

When Faith's father dies she knows there's something unnatural about his death. Before he was found dead her father showed her a plant. Faith studies his notes and tries to find out what she can about it. The Lie Tree will grow when it's being fed a lie. This is exactly what Faith does. She needs its fruit, which is supposed to uncover a bigger truth, to find out what happened to her father. 

Faith isn't such a good girl any longer and her lies are spreading very quickly. The tree prospers, which is exactly what she wants. There are consequences and there's always a price to pay. Will Faith discover the truth and what will be that price if she succeeds?

The Lie Tree is such a dark, twisted and impressive story. I haven't read anything like it before, which is one of the reasons why I loved it so much. It's unique and interesting and it made me curious. Faith wants to be a natural scientist just like her father, but in her era women aren't supposed to be scholars. She learns to sneak around to get what she wants. All of a sudden she isn't a good little girl any longer. She has to grow up and she has to do it quickly. 

I liked the idea of a tree that needs lies as a form of nourishment. It was a fabulous element of the story. Faith doesn't even hesitate, she wants to know more about the tree, so she comes up with a clever plan to feed it. Science is more important to her than anything else. Faith's search is such a thrilling one. It isn't only about solving her father's mysterious death, it's the process that's so important. That's the biggest strength of the story for me. It's both unusual and fascinating and the result is fantastic.


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