It must be lies. But whether true or not the Sunderly family must leave their comfortable home for a remote and unfriendly island community to escape scandal. But what can it be? Faith longs to know the truth but not yet quite grown-up, and a girl besides, she is excluded. Then her father is found dead. Suicide? Faith is convinced that he has been murdered – and lies begin to mount. When she discovers of one of his secrets – a tree that fboth feeds off lies and spreads them with its fruits – Faith finds she has a weapon through which she can be revenged on all those who have humiliated and scorned her and her family. She will also use the lies to uncover the truth. But lies are slippery by their very nature, and revenge may not be as simple or as pleasant as you imagine.
Frances Hardinge is one of the most imaginative of authors. She is particularly skilful at creating worlds that are rooted in reality, but adding a twist of fantasy that is completely believable and coherent. Here, we find ourselves in a Darwinian Victorian world; a world where new ideas and strange theories are being promoted, where old certainties are being challenged as new discoveries are being uncovered (literally), and fame comes in the shape of a fossil. In such a world, the existence of the Lie Tree is not just plausible, it is real. In this world girls like Faith, curious, intelligent and ambitious, have no place. To survive they must be untrue to themselves. So the Lie Tree acts as a metaphor for society and the way it works. However, this is no philosophical treatise. These currents flow subtly and smoothly though an engrossing and exciting story. Hardinge is a consummate storyteller for whom words are the jewels she uses to embellish her work. Rich, imaginative, satisfying, this is for readers who want something a bit more than surface polish.