The Lie Tree by @FrancesHardinge

A book of many layers – all worth exploring


Faith’s father, the well respected Rev. Erasmus Sunderly has become subject to gossip and the family has moved to a small island. Her father will work on a dig and the family will wait for their problems to blow over. However the problems follow them and Faith watches as her family struggle to settle and be accepted in a community that is turning against them. Events turn more sinister when Faith’s father is found dead – a suicide or a murder victim? Faith is determined to discover the truth but she is hampered by her status as a women is a male dominated society. Luckily she has the Lie Tree to help her in her investigations.

This is a book of many layers: a mystery and adventure story with an element of fantasy, a snapshot of society in the 1800’s and a coming of age book. Above all, it is a beautifully written book, one where it feels as if each word has been carefully chosen for the greatest effect.

Intriguing and interesting, the book draws the reader in and, with subtle phrases and descriptions, paints a clear picture of a restrictive society hidebound by class issues, issues about the place of women and the supremacy of men and rocked by the discoveries of Darwin who challenged the basis of many people’s religious beliefs.

In the book, Faith is on a journey to discover the truth about her father’s death. That journey is also one of self discovery: of who she is and who she wants to be. As she understands herself better, Faith also revises her opinions of the people around her, becoming more accepting and less judgmental.

This is a challenging read and the language in the book may well deter weaker readers – however for those who may struggle, the audiobook is a pleasure to listen to. Readers who enjoy a challenge will enjoy the many layers of this book – there is much to think about. This wold be an excellent book to discuss with teens.

A worthy contender for the Carnegie Medal.


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