Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Alexis: Read 2/4/19

“There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too.”

The Lie Tree is both about revenge and finding yourself. It manages to be a murder mystery book while exploring themes of science vs. religion, paleontology, family, and, of course, lies.

The book follows Faith, the 14-year-old daughter of a reverend/scientist, who moves to an island with her family. Throughout the story, she struggles with being a complacent girl in 19th century England while battling her desire to be seen and heard as a person with a brain and scientific ambitions. This was my favorite part of the book. I loved reading about Faith’s navigation through 19th century society and ideals. I felt and understood her frustrations as she dealt with being called useless. I also appreciated that Hardinge explored how her petticoats and corset always got in the way; it just felt very real to me. And, as the book progressed, I loved reading about her showing off her cleverness and proving to her mother, and the men in the book, what she can do.

Faith’s character was a little hard for me to like. I rooted for her to win, even through her ill-fated motives and her willingness to lie. I thought that the unlikability of the characters served the dark nature of the story and the Lie Tree well. However, at times, I found the story hard to get through because of this, and also because the plot was a little slow. Despite this, Hardinge is still a poetic writer and I enjoyed her descriptions and the murder mystery storyline.

VERDICT: 3 ½ out of 5 books

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