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The Lie Tree
Cover of The Lie Tree
The Lie Tree

Read this thought-provoking, critically acclaimed novel from Frances Hardinge, winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Costa Children's Book Awards.Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father's possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father's murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself. Frances Hardinge is the author of many acclaimed novels, including Cuckoo Song, which earned five starred reviews.

Read this thought-provoking, critically acclaimed novel from Frances Hardinge, winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Costa Children's Book Awards.Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father's possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father's murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself. Frances Hardinge is the author of many acclaimed novels, including Cuckoo Song, which earned five starred reviews.

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  • Text Difficulty:
    5

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Frances Hardinge is the winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Costa Children's Book Awards for The Lie Tree. She is the author of several books for children, including Cuckoo Song (five starred reviews, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal), The Lost Conspiracy (five starred reviews, Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist), Fly by Night (shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Book prize), Well Witched (SLJ Best Book of 2008), and Fly Trap (shortlisted for the Guardian Prize, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal). She lives in England. franceshardinge.com

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 15, 2016
    In Hardinge’s (Cuckoo Song) superb tale of overarching ambition and crypto-botany, which recently won the Costa Book Award in the U.K., the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, an eminent if unpleasant Victorian, has suddenly moved his family to a remote island, ostensibly to participate in a paleontological dig, but actually to escape scandal. Noticing that he is acting strangely, his 14-year-old daughter, Faith, a budding scientist whose intellectual curiosities are dismissed and discouraged, offers her aid and soon finds herself party to a terrifying discovery, a mysterious tree that apparently feeds on lies, rewarding the liar with astonishing visions. This so-called “Mendacity Tree” gives the tale an oddly allegorical feel, like something out of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. When Sunderly is found dead, an apparent suicide, it is up to Faith to clear his name, expose the murderer, and perhaps endanger her very soul. Hardinge’s characteristically rich writing is on full display—alternately excoriating, haunting, and darkly funny—and the novel also features complex, many-sided characters and a clear-eyed examination of the deep sexism of the period, which trapped even the most intelligent women in roles as restrictive as their corsets. The Reverend’s murder is a compelling mystery, grounded not just in professional envy and greed, but in the theological high-stakes game of Darwinian evolution and its many discontents. It’s a ripping good yarn, one that should hold particular appeal for readers who are attracted to philosophically dense works like those of David Almond and Margo Lanagan. Ages 13–up. Agent: Nancy Miles, Miles Stott Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 15, 2016
    Mystery, magic, religion, and feminism swirl together in Hardinge's latest heady concoction, set amid the scientific ferment following the publication of The Origin of Species. When the Rev. Sunderly, famed natural scientist, abruptly moves his family from England to a small island, his 14-year-old daughter is surprised and then heartbroken as she realizes they are fleeing scandal; her remote but beloved father faked the fossil discovery that assured his fame. When he dies shortly after their arrival, Faith--whose plain, obedient exterior has always hidden a brilliant mind and daring spirit--is the only one who suspects murder. She turns to a secret plant her father has nurtured, which feeds off lies propagated in the world and delivers to the liar a truth-bearing hallucinogenic fruit. The tree exerts a malevolent force, but it also unleashes the true Faith as she navigates complex social and political machinations, with only the reluctant aid of the son of the local clergyman. In lesser hands, this might be crowded; instead, Hardinge creates a fierce, unlikable heroine navigating a rapidly changing world and does it all with consummate skill and pitch-perfect prose, drawing readers into Faith's world and onto her side and ultimately saying quite a lot about the world. Thematically rich, stylistically impressive, absolutely unforgettable. (Historical fantasy/horror. 12 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2016

    Gr 7 Up-In a time when a young woman's exterior life can be stifling and dull, Faith Sunderly's interior life is cavernous. She has a sharp mind; a keen interest in the scientific research that has made her father, the formidable Reverend Sunderly, famous; and an irresistible impulse for sneaking, spying, and skulking around. Faith's curiosity about the world around her, which she must keep hidden, is a source of personal shame and the one thing about herself she longs for people, especially her father, to notice. When the Reverend is invited to take part in an archaeological dig on the insular island community of Vane, the whole family packs up and moves with him. It doesn't take long for Faith to suspect there are darker reasons the family left London in such a hurry, and just as she's starting to put things together, her father is found dead. Setting out to prove her father's death was a murder, Faith uncovers a web of secrets the Reverend has been keeping, all centered on one of his specimens-a small tree that thrives on lies and bears a fruit that tells the truth. Faith believes she can use the tree to find her father's killer and begins feeding it lies. As the tree grows, so do Faith's lies and her fevered obsession with finding out the truth. Hardinge, who can turn a phrase like no other, melds a haunting historical mystery with a sharp observation on the dangers of suppressing the thirst for knowledge, and leaves readers to wonder where science ends and fantasy begins. VERDICT Smart, feminist, and shadowy, Hardinge's talents are on full display here.-Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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