Wednesday, April 27, 2016

ARC Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Orig. Pub. Date:  May 7, 2015
Re-Pub Date:  April 19, 2016
Publisher:  Amulet Books
Pages:  384
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

This was a bit of a different read for me, but I enjoyed the change of pace and can always appreciate a well-crafted story.  This is a Victorian Gothic coming-of-age for a young girl, Faith, during the  time when it was still unfashionable for women to be smart or clever, and they had to depend on the males of society for nearly everything. (((Shudder))) Seriously, this point was driven home to our heroine in drastic ways by numerous males of her acquaintance. Whether they were ruminating over the smaller size of the female head/brain, chastising her for being too knowledgeable, or telling her what a burden she was... Faith just couldn't win.

As a female reader, the way that Faith was constantly discouraged and ignored really got under my skin.  I was affronted and angry for our heroine, so this provocation really served to create an emotional connection with her character (for me, at least).  

I would say this story had several antagonists... really our heroine was adversarial to most males of the story, plus the spooky Mendacity Tree, and some others that you will have to figure out as you read.  I was drawn into the struggle that Faith had over her feelings for her father. She clearly loved him, but she was also learning that he was not a god-like hero as she previously thought. But although he was flawed, she must find out the truth of his death to save her family from financial ruin and further scandal. 

I liked that this was a dark gothic twisty tale. The warped re-creation of a biblical construct was really interesting, as was the interplay between the Evolutionists vs. Creationists. This story is taking place less than ten years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, so I can imagine that the debate was a very hot and divisive topic among scientists and theologists of the time.  It's certainly still a divisive topic today, so I can only imagine what it was like back then when it was somewhat new.

But back to the Mendacity Tree... a tree that thrived in the dark and was fed by lies, and would offer a secret if you ate one of its foul fruits.  I had a great picture of this cave-dwelling, black-vined, strange fruit-bearing tree in my head... its like the Audrey II meets the Tree of Knowledge. Fah-reaky! (Bonus points if you remember the Audrey II!)  I wish there would have been a little more focus on the tree itself, it was always kind of there in the background but I would have loved a little more focus there.  People were either hiding it, coveting it, killing for it, or being lured in by the tempting knowledge it offered. It just goes to show that people are tempted enough by knowledge and secrets that they don't need that sneaky ol' snake to tempt them to take a bite.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4 stars / no heat.