Fly by Night
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Fly by Night (Fly By Night #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  3,229 ratings  ·  395 reviews
Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn't got much. Her parents are dead, her cruel uncle keeps her locked away, and her only friend is her pet goose. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. In a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life—but it may also be the death of her.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published February 19th 2008 by HarperCollins (first published October 7th 2005)
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Adam Boisvert
In the back of Fly By Night, Frances Hardinge gives us the following warning: "This is not a historical novel. It is a yarn. Although the Realm is based roughly on England at the start of the eighteenth century, I have taken appalling liberties with historical authenticity and, when I felt like it, the laws of physics."

What she fails to mention is that it's a rollicking good yarn. It follows the adventures (and mis-adventures) of Mosca Mye. Her problem is she loves words of all shapes and sizes...more
Lucy
Fly By Night opens with a short history of The Fractured Realm, and things look grim indeed. A history peppered with monarchs and parliament, guild wars and religious inquisitions, and a holy terror of the dangers of the written word are the backdrop for this story.

Mosca Mye, orphaned, black-eyed and stubborn and addicted to the written word, burns down her uncle’s mill (accidentally,) releases a con man from the stocks (on purpose,) and flees town with only her homicidal and loyal goose Sarace...more
skokiesam
Dec 30, 2007 skokiesam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked Inkheart by Cornelia Funke or The Never-Ending Story
Shelves: favorites
This is truly a book about readers, for readers. I know that the plot is not unfamiliar to many of you: lonely girl or boy, spends more time with books than with people because books are friendlier, kinder, less cruel. And then something magical happens, blah blah blah. Fly by Night is a little different in that instead of exploring the power of books to a child, it delves into the strength of words and names, and how both affect the world and how they determine the kind of person you become. Th...more
Ashley
This is probably the best example of what I call "not-quite-fantasy" that I've read since Lloyd Alexander's The Kestral. While it takes place in a fictional country loosely based on seventeenth century England, there is no magic in this story, except for the elusive magic of words which the author both idolizes and exhibits in her own gorgeous prose. The young protagonist makes her way through a complex and realistically imagined world complete with an elaborate social structure, religion and hi...more
Lightreads
Frances Hardinge understands all those important rules of storycraft like 'the true tension is internal,' and 'you don't have to be good to be relatable,' and 'if you put a loaded goose on the mantelpiece in act I, you have to fire it by act V.'

Ung, so good. So so good. This was her first published novel, and it's true, it doesn't have the tautness and precision of her later The Lost Conspiracy. But this is also a weird and wonderful book. It's young adult fantasy about a twelve-year-old girl wh...more
Gabriel
Sep 22, 2007 Gabriel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book was a nice surprise. A very solid and satisfying adventure that was sincerely amusing, exciting and interesting. The main character Mosca is awesome and won me over almost immediately. How could she not? Champing on a pipe with a take no shit attitude under one arm and a murderous goose under the other.
Mika
As I sat down to write this post, I thought, “You know, the title really doesn’t make any sense. It has nothing to do with the book at all.” Oh my, I am losing it. I somehow failed to make the connection between the main character’s name, Mosca (in honor of the day she was born on - sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butter Churns), and the double meaning of the word fly. Sheesh.

The plot was extremely unique. In whatever world this takes place in (one thing I can h...more
Hallie
This is a sort of sum of a reading (when it came out, horribly bound paperback - really badly affected readign pleasure) and a listening (audiobook much better, except that Mosca was done as much more street-child than she should have been, given her father and education). While I didn't really feel the love that much on reading, I knew how badly I'd been put off by the binding, and I did indeed really appreciate the love of language that infuses the book through being slowed down to listen. The...more
Beth
This book reads like a mashup of a few other young YA novels to me, meaning it doesn't feel very original, and the plot is a bit ludicrous. The writing, though, is so original and clever and the kingdom's history so well laid out and explained that combined they prevent any melodrama.

First, the writing: Fly by Night flows smoothly, yes, but it also showcases a uniquely twelve-year-old experience. Hardinge removes her perspective so completely from the novel that she manages to create characteriz...more
Sesana
Ok, I admit it: I basically read this book because of the Brett Helquist art on the cover. I was disappointed to discover that was all he contributed: no interior illustrations. At any rate, the book has a very interesting and unique (to me, at least) premise. It uses the English Revolution as a sort of starting point, the main divergence being that, revolution over, Parliament is given half a dozen or so contenders to become the new monarch and twenty years later, they still haven't decided. In...more
Ruffin
i wholly sympathized with Mosca's love of words and appreciated that Hardinge used such wonderfully descriptive language. "The papery sound of rain" is fantastically perfect! I also like that she inverted the usual fantasy triangle: instead of introducing many characters who are doing different things and then they converge, the characters in this one all meet in the beginning, touch again and then the action is spread out. Very nice
Linna
Where do I even start?

You'd think that after so many years of devouring books that I wouldn't be reduced to the speechless mess that I am right now, marveling at how Fly by Night manages to keep getting better with every page, how it keeps surprising me with a new wonderful way of wording something as it paints so many vivid pictures of its characters with a few deft strokes.

From the first few pages I was in love, and it's hard not to because here is a book that loves words just as much as you...more
Iowa City Public Library
Among the many changes that came with the publication success of the Harry Potter series was the freedom to publish books for children and teens with a longer page count. I’m not saying this is always a great thing; in fact lately I’ve grown quite tired of seeing yet another bloated fantasy pushing 600 pages (I’m looking in your direction Mr. Paolini!). But occasionally a slightly-pudgy gem comes along that vindicates J.K.

Frances Hardinge’s 483 page book Fly By Night uses the extra words to good...more
TheBookSmugglers
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

I am overcome with Imperious Feelings demanding that I find the Right Words to write this review. Fly By Night is Absurdly Brilliant. This is not an overstatement.

How else could I possibly qualify a book that features a main character named Mosca1 Mye whose love for words is both impetus and trademark? Whose love for words is the driving force toward a life of High Adventure in the company of a smooth-talking charlatan named Eponymous Clent and a murde...more
Anna
I thought that this book was great. It had an intriguing plot line, plenty of twists and turns, and each chapter was a different letter of the alphabet (A Is For Arsony, etc.). HOWEVER, I was disappointed with the ending. Rather than subtly make a point and then end the story, the author got incredibly PREACHY. I think the point could have been made succintly and then the story could have cheerfully trotted along to it's conclusion. Instead, the author went on and on. Her point wasn't bad (basic...more
Tapestrymlp
Mosca Mye and her goose Saracen are certainly an odd couple of heros, but charming ones none the less. The underlying story is a good one with lots of twists and turns that satisfy as well as suprise.

This book receives only three stars, however, for several reasons. First, the author is a little too enamored of simile and comparison. There are some really great similes in this book but also some humongous clankers. Many of the comparison's the author makes just don't fit or make sense. There is...more
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

Fly by Night has a very Dickensian feel to it. Mosca Mye is a clever orphan with an instinct for survival and she has to survive in a world of shady adults and dangers. Adults with names like Eponymous Clent, Linden Kohlrabi, Lady Tamarind and Captain Blythe. This book is a word lovers delight. Hardinge plays with names and is a master of figurative language. The descriptions in the book bring the world of The Fractured Realm to life. The realm is a fully realized o...more
Nick Fagerlund
Everybody read this immediately. (Ignore the cover and don't bother reading any promo copy, because the marketing department fixated on the Macguffin and got it two-thirds wrong anyway.)

Mosca, a smart, stubborn, and angry hick who totes a homicidal goose named Saracen, follows a con man named Eponymous Clent to the big city. Espionage, guild warfare, and murder ensue. They accidentally turn some poor bastard into a folk hero. There are moving coffee houses. The goose steals no fewer than two boa...more
Pica
Feb 16, 2013 Pica rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
Read my full review here.

I love this book. I can't believe I forgot about how much I loved it for such a long time. I reread it in the last couple of days so that I could have it fresh in my mind when I read Fly Trap. This time around, I consciously noticed a lot of parts of the story that I had subconsciously noted and made me like the book last time. Through witty exchanges, politics, mystery, wonderful characters, and above all, a love of language, Hardinge creates a story that is nearly impo...more
mina
Tadinya pesimis dengan buku ini. Narasinya ditulis dengan bahasa berbunga-bunga ala cerita sastra, dan usaha menyelesaikan buku ini begitu besar, hampir sebulan, dan baru menarik dan bersemangat begitu tokoh utama buku, Mosca Mye, mulai mengambil jalan berbeda dari "teman jalan"-nya, Eponymous Clent. Yah, sekitar lewat lebih dari separo buku lah.
Mosca Mye lahir ke dunia yang takut kepada buku atau jenis cetakan apa pun yang ilegal (ilegal = tidak mempunyai cap legal dari Serikat Ahli Cetak). Ay...more
Carissa
“since the burning of her father’s books, mosca had been starved of words. she had subsisted on workaday terms, snub and flavorless as potatoes. clent had brought phrases as vivid and strange as spices, and he smiled as he spoke, as if tasting them.” this quote early in the book is a quick representation of the relationship between mosca mye and eponymous clent, two of the main characters in this delightful tale. it is set in a vaguely classical era (men wear powdered wigs) of a non-existent wor...more
nicole
Jun 07, 2009 nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All y'all!
Recommended to nicole by: Navah
Shelves: 2009, 7up, orphans, favorites
I don't even know where to start. I loved every aspect of this book. Every single one. It's dark, it's thoughtful, it's odd and adventurous, even funny, and it's wonderfully, wonderfully written. The statement is makes regarding religion is profound, and not just for a "children's book", and it's defense and love of literature is the sort of thing that'll make the pages melt in the mind of any book nerd that picks it up. Mosca Mye is the perfect cross between Joan Aiken's Dido Twite and Philip P...more
Chris
I have to admit that I almost didn't read this book. The cover art gave the impression it might be a bit light and the banner across it that it might be a bit too straightforward. I'm very glad that I didn't judge this book by it's cover, though, because it ended up being a very satisfying read. A disclaimer at the end reads:

This is not a historical novel. It is a yarn. Although the Realm is based roughly on England at the start of the eighteenth century, I have taken appalling liberties with hi...more
Karen Healey
A wild delight; a madcap adventure and a fascinating argument for freedom of speech and religion in a fantasy world like a torn and muddied red velvet cape. It's populated with fantastic characters and a plot so twisty and so full of swiftly-changing alliances and factions that Locke Lamora would have trouble untangling it.

Highly, highly recommended.

(Also, one of the main characters is named EPONYMOUS CLENT. I don't believe there's been a more perfectly-named character in the history of ever.)


Th...more
Warnie B.
I really enjoyed Hardinge's most recent book, The Lost Conspiracy, and between that and all the five star reviews for Fly By Night on here, I naturally assumed I'd like this one just as much. But I was wrong. I never really connected with the main character, and then the story itself...just never really interested me (the main point also seemed REALLY heavy handed). And it's very difficult to enjoy a book when you don't care about anybody or anything in it. Another thing: part of what I loved ab...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I would probably have rated this higher i I hadn't read Hardinge's more recent novel, 'A face Like Glass' first. The newer novel has many of the same things going on - a scrappy, smart heroine, a complex, fascinating world, a willingness to deal with big questions and a shimmering, bejewelled prose style, as good at evocative decription and heroism as it is at rollicking humour and grotesquerie.

It's still a brilliant book, packed with all sorts of great things. Sometimes the plot was just too.....more
Heidi
Frances Hardinge delivers for me once again. I loved Mosca's predilection for getting into trouble, causing trouble, and somehow finding ways to make things right again. The goose was brilliant. Hardinge managed to find a way to give him a defined personality without projecting human characteristics onto him. He is stubborn, vengeful, and still most definitely a goose. I love Hardinge's ability to create unique worlds, and this book was no exception. The waterfront town, where most of the story...more
Q
A wonderful book with solidly imagined world and carefully written ties to the real world. Got a bit slow at times but not boring.
Terry
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Kate
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Does anyone else love this book? 8 23 May 19, 2014 02:03PM  
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Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.
More about Frances Hardinge...
The Lost Conspiracy Well Witched A Face Like Glass Fly Trap (Fly By Night, #2) Cuckoo Song

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“True stories seldom have endings.
I don't want a happy ending, I want more story.”
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“Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad.” 60 likes
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