The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge Mod. 1

lie tree


Hardinge, Frances. The Lie Tree. Harry N Abrams: New York, 2016. ISBN 978-1419718953

Plot Summary:

Faith Sunderly is a proper young lady. At least, that’s what everyone thinks. But when her father shows up dead after leaving a scandal, she knows he was murdered. Determined to seek revenge and justice for her father, she becomes a sleuth and discovers secrets that will help her uncover the truth behind her father’s death.

Critical Analysis:

This book was okay. The language used was very beautiful and made sense for the setting. You could very much tell that the characters were English and from the Victorian age. This book was told pretty well. The concept is original and portrayed really well. (A Tree that offers a fruit only if you lie to it. The best part of this book are variety of morals and undertones. Revenge, justice, lies, truth, perception, feminism, and corruption of society are all a part of this book.

“He always filled Faith with awe. Even now he stared out toward the gray horizons with his unyielding basilisk stare, distancing himself from the chilly downpour, the reek of bilge and coal smoke, and the ignominious arguing and jostling.” (pg. 2)

“A lie was lie a fire, Faith was discovering. At first it needed to be nursed and fed, but carefully and gently. A slight breath would fan the newborn flames, but too vigorous a huff would blow it out.” (pg. 255)

The characters are really cool. All of them are well developed, especially our main character, Faith. I would say that our villains needed a little more development in as far as being relate-able. But this is a problem most authors face, so it’s not off-putting. For example, the Uncle Miles. He seems like a loving dotting uncle at first, but as you read, you find out he was involved in the death of Faith’s father.

Cultural Markers:

As stated previously, this book takes place in 19th century Victorian England. This is obvious from the language used. How the characters talk and the words used are uniquely British.

Unfortunately, it also is indicated by the enforced gender roles of the Victorian era.

“Listen, Faith. A girl cannot be brave, or clever, or skilled as a boy can. If she is not good, she is nothing. Do you understand?”

Obviously our heroine doesn’t understand. Throughout the book, Faith determinedly tries to break through gender roles, furious that her gender means she is less than.

“She had always known that she was rated less than Howard, the treasured son. Now, however, she knew that she was ranked somewhere below ‘Miscellaneous Cuttings.'”

Despite everyone telling her otherwise, Faith fights to prove her father was murdered. She is a character for women to look up to.

“What if I want to be a bad example?”

The story was told well, though the pacing was a little slow for me. I had to kind of trudge through it, especially at the beginning with all the set up.

Overall, a good book with a good storyline.

Rating 3/5

Review Excerpts:

From School Library Journal:

“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.”

From Kirkus:

“Mystery, magic, religion, and feminism swirl together in Hardinge’s latest heady concoction… 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.”

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“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.”


Similar Books:

10 Days a Madwoman: The Daring LIfe and Turbulant Times of the Origianl “Girl” Reporter Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes ISBN 978-0147508744

Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman ISBN 9781406314595

Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine ISBN 9780007512362

Other books by Francis Hardinge:

A Face Like Glass ISBN 9780230763500

Fly By Night ISBN 9780060876272

Cuckoo Song ISBN 9780330519731

Writing Prompt:

This book is about a tree that bears fruit when told a lie. The fruit delivers a hidden truth. If you had access to this tree, what lie would you tell it, and what truth would you hope to gain from it?


Published by

Adrinna Davis

Hello there! Not much to me, I'm just your average author and librarian who is obsessed with Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Merlin, Divergent, ect... who is married with two kids. :) And now blogger. I love children's lit and want to share with you all the amazing books I find!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s