Book Reviews

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge | Book Review


The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge.

My copy: Amulet Books, April 2016. Egalley (review copy), 384 pages.

Source: I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Amulet Books!



To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

The Lie Tree has a great premise and a great protagonist, but it just wasn’t the right book for me when I was reading it; I was still in a big reading rut. Absolutely nothing of the book’s fault — my head just wasn’t in it. I’ve seen so many other people love this book that I know I just missed a lot due to reading it because I felt like I had to. Oh, the woes of being a book blogger.

Faith Sunderly and her family move from England to an island after her father is caught in a scandal. Faith loves her father and admires his scientific work, but is constantly put down by the adults around her because of her interest in and talent for science. She is a woman, so she should stay silent around men and stick to things fit for her gender. Her frustration and embarrassment I really felt, and it was such a shift when she became practically elated after her father finally asked for her help and trusted her to keep his secrets — because who would ever suspect a woman?

The book really gets moving when Faith’s father is found dead and everyone presumes he committed suicide. Faith knows better, and the story shifts into a mystery as she tries to uncover who murdered her father and why. There is a slight fantastical element regarding the Lie Tree, which I found hard to fully believe because I wanted the book just to be an historical murder mystery. It takes a lot to convince me of an historical fantasy, unless the magic plays a very large part.

In the end, The Lie Tree kind of went by in a blur because I wasn’t that concentrated on it. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it. My feelings are kind of “meh”. However — Frances Hardinge’s writing is great, and I wish I’d been in a better head-space while reading because I would have definitely savored her words even more. ♦

Have you read The Lie Tree?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s an historical book with some fantasy elements you recommend?
Comment below letting me know!

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2 thoughts on “The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge | Book Review

  1. I’ve seen this floating around for a while, and the premise sounds great. I’m not sure I’d enjoy the fantasy element though – is it subtle or is it full on ‘stuff happening that is made up’ type fantasy?
    I get the feeling it might be just sort of magical in the writing style, a bit like Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller.


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