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Fly by Night (Fly by Night #1)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  4,400 Ratings  ·  526 Reviews
Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn't got much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, Saracen, who'll bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn't know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life.

Enter Eponymous Clent, a
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2005)
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Sarah Then this book will be perfect for them. It's clever, entertaining and appropriate for that age.

PS In case you're religious : It's got some…more
Then this book will be perfect for them. It's clever, entertaining and appropriate for that age.

PS In case you're religious : It's got some should I phrase this.. I've heard it described as..*cough* as a leaning towards *cough* atheist propaganda. But the references, in my opinion, towards the end are very subtle so there really shouldn't be any problem at all. I thought I'd mention it just in case.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 30, 2007 Ashley rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenilefantasy
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
Adam Boisvert
May 20, 2014 Adam Boisvert rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 22, 2007 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 24, 2007 Ruffin rated it really liked it
Shelves: middleschool
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
Dec 30, 2007 skokiesam rated it really liked it
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
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
Apr 30, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
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
Mar 24, 2009 Lucy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: rena p.
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
Jun 07, 2009 nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All y'all!
Recommended to nicole by: Navah
Shelves: 7up, favorites, 2009, orphans
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
Sep 23, 2008 Mika rated it really liked it
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
Jul 17, 2009 Daria rated it it was amazing
An excellent, witty, and incredibly orginial book with wonderfully lyrical prose. Words are its essence; Hardinge writes with an unmatched eloquency. And of course who could resist a book that features floating coffehouses, homicidal geese, bloody histories, smart and survival-prone 12 year old girls, evil conspirators, and their intricate conspiracies? It's funny and dark at the same time, and I compliment Hardinge on her ability to make her characters wonderfully real - from smart-aleck Mosca ...more
Sep 14, 2009 Anna rated it liked it
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
Karen Healey
Jul 01, 2009 Karen Healey rated it it was amazing
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.)

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
Feb 27, 2011 Hallie rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, fantasy
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
Mar 13, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Oct 31, 2011 Sesana rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
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
Feb 16, 2013 Pica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Brandy Painter
Jul 12, 2011 Brandy Painter rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 12, 2012 TheBookSmugglers rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nick Fagerlund
Oct 27, 2012 Nick Fagerlund rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 17, 2013 Lightreads rated it really liked it
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
Arielle Walker
"Where is your sense of patriotism?"
"I keep it hid away safe, along with my sense of trust, Mr Clent. I don't use 'em much in case they get scratched."

Frances Hardinge can certainly turn a wonderful phrase. Her words skip and giggle and gleam, at once sly and coy. Characters are never simply "brown haired" or "blue eyed" but rather given descriptions such as "The little man's mouth was a small, bitter V-shape, and seemed designed to say small, bitter things."

Unfortunately, in Fly by Night, the p
I absolutely loved Frances Hardinge's A Face Like Glass so I had high expectations of Fly by Night. Perhaps that was a little unfair as Fly by Night is Hardinge's debut novel (published in 2005).

Twelve year old Mosca Mye is named after the common housefly by her erudite, eccentric, book-loving, historian and philosopher father Quillam Mye. After his death, Quillam Mye's books and histories are burnt by the frightened villages in the rain soaked village of Clough. Eventually word-hungry Mosca is
Sep 04, 2015 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Sophisticated mysteries and political intrigues, funny adventures, excellent dialog.

I am buying every book Frances Hardinge has written so far.
Mar 03, 2016 Denny rated it really liked it
Great so far. Page 1 was excellent. My wife's comment!
Rebecca McNutt
Jul 08, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it really liked it
Fantastically-creative and intriguing, this middle-grade fantasy is like reading an old-fashioned classic fairy tale.
Reta Anna Maria
Sep 19, 2016 Reta Anna Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luin tämän päivän ehkä yläasteikäisenä. Silloin pidin tosi paljon.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Fly by Night (2 books)
  • Fly Trap (Fly by Night, #2)

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“True stories seldom have endings.
I don't want a happy ending, I want more story.”
“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.” 89 likes
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