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Lie tree

Book review: The Lie Tree (Frances Hardinge)

I remember when I was in London last May. Naturally I went to a book store, because they are my favourite places in the world. It was on the South Bank, with a clear view of the London Eye. The weather was warm and people were enjoying themselves outside as it was a bank holiday. Instead of enjoying the nice weather, I looked at countless bookshelves and dozens of books until I found something that caught my interest.

I saw a book called The Lie Tree and I was intrigued, yet I didn’t buy it then. A few months later, while I was book shopping online, it popped up again. This time I did buy it and decided to read it as soon as I finished the other book I was reading. I finished it last week and really wanted to share my thoughts.

The Lie Tree is a children’s book, although you would not say so at first glance. It deals with very deep themes such as death and politics. The language is certainly not simple, which makes it a challenging read for children; but I think that that is a good thing. It is not a bad thing to make children think once in a while. I definitely think children, more so than adults, are capable of dealing with these heavy themes. The Lie Tree is a book that is appealing to all ages and those are the kind of books that I enjoy the most.

I found a short summary on wikipedia which describes the story better than I possibly could in a few sentences:

The Lie Tree is set in the male-dominated Victorian scientific society, and tells the story of Faith Sunderly, a 14-year-old girl whose father is killed in mysterious circumstances. In her efforts to discover what happened to her father, and to follow his footsteps of studying natural science, she discovers a tree that feeds off whispered lies.

Initially I had quite a hard time getting through the first half of the book. While the writing is beautiful and elegant, I felt like it took quite a long time for the story to truly get started. I didn’t quite know where the story was going and that was very frustrating. It didn’t really kick off until Faith’s father was killed. That was the point from where I could not stop reading.

The Lie Tree: surprising read

I tried to work out all the clues along with Faith, but I found that I was very wrong when I reached the conclusion. While that probably shows that I would be an awful detective, it also shows how clever the story is. Most crime-novels are fairly predictable and you can guess who the murderer is from miles away, but not this time. So it is a surprising read, which makes it quite refreshing.

Also the concept of a tree that feeds on lies is genius, especially when those lies have such an impact on the outside world. While reading the book, I often wondered what it would be like if a tree like that would truly exist, especially taken into consideration what its fruit can show you..

I also loved how the main character Faith begins as a typical girl who lived in Victorian times. Girls were not much back in those days, and while Faith is highly intelligent, she is not given the chance to show that she is. It is when she takes matters in her own hands that she starts making a change. She becomes a strong young woman who is not afraid to use those brains despite what people think of it.

Strong Female Characters

Faith is not the only strong female character in this book. Faith’s mother, Myrtle, also starts out as a typical wife and mother, but when her husband dies, she becomes a cunning woman. She does whatever she needs to do to keep her family’s head above the water. I enjoy reading about strong female characters I can identify with, especially when there is so much character development as in this book.

All in all, The Lie Tree is a very rewarding book to read if you take the time to really delve into it. It is a book that makes you think and feel and gasp at times; and those are the best kind of books in my opinion.

3,5/5

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Ingrid is the twenty-something owner of The Sassologist, who loves everything that has to do with pop culture. While she is one of many who is in the process of writing a novel, she is also currently in denial over not being a witch. Her Hogwarts letter has yet to arrive. In the meantime she writes about pop culture and dreams about unicorns.

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