Review: The Lie Tree | Frances Hardinge

This review is spoiler-free.

“Faith had always told herself that she was not like other ladies. But neither, it seemed, were other ladies.”

Published: 2018, by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Magical Realism, Gothic
Contains: Violence, Anger, Death, Murder, Blood/Gore, Suicide, Mental Health, Mental Illness

‘The Lie Tree’ follows Faith Sunderly, who leads a double life. To most people, she is seen as a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, she is full of curiosity, and cannot resist mysteries. In pursuit of justice and revenge for her father’s murder, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree, which bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth and might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

I first discovered this book in a charity shop, the premise intriguing me enough to decide to pick it up for myself. Unfortunately, it’s critical acclaim wasn’t something I managed to understand myself.

Faith made for an incredibly interesting protagonist, her relationships with the characters being of great importance to the plot line. She’s incredibly feminist her ways of thinking and her beliefs, thinking ahead of her time and managing to inspire those into believing their own capabilities.
Faith’s mother, Myrtle, was another interesting character, doing her best for her family even if her daughter cannot see it. It’s difficult for her, and yet their understanding and the development of their relationship was very interesting to read about.
However, my favourite character was Paul, who befriended Faith later in novel and became a prime character to the story. His relationship with Faith was very intriguing, managing to make me smile at times to be able to witness their blossoming friendship. It made for a very entertaining read when it came to their relationship.

The novel itself is incredibly slow paced, moving through the story and it’s characters with an incredibly difficult premise. The story itself could be viewed as confusing, the idea of the lie tree being very complex and deep, causing a lot of confusion whilst reading. The writing style was beautiful, guiding you through the story with luscious language and deep descriptions. However, the story itself is where the novel dipped slightly.

Overall, ‘The Lie Tree’ was a very complex and confusing read. There was a lot left unsaid and whilst the language was beautifully written, there was a lot deep down that I simply couldn’t enjoy it.


2 thoughts on “Review: The Lie Tree | Frances Hardinge

  1. I was really looking forward to reading this review. Ouch! I’m glad you admitted outright “I don’t get what the fuss is about” after seeing it. Maybe it’s a book which could have benefited from another draft or two to work on that pacing problem and to give a better explanation of what the tree was trying to achieve.

    Liked by 1 person

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