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The Lie Tree

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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.

377 pages, Hardcover

First published March 7, 2015

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About the author

Frances Hardinge

34 books2,446 followers
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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,668 reviews
Profile Image for Nataliya.
744 reviews11.9k followers
April 25, 2023
Frances Hardinge is one of my most treasured literary finds of the past few years. She is one of those writers that make me want to happily give the shout-outs to their books from the rooftops and endlessly blab about them to anyone who would listen. They have it all - the spark, the snark, the depth, the skill and everything else that makes me smile happily when I go to reread them for the third time in a year.

Her books may be inexplicably classified under an umbrella of 'children's literature', but they have managed to keep me enthralled and in all honesty are no more solely children's books than any of the classics with the sub-adult characters (think your Huck Finn, Holden Caulfield and Scout Finch, for instance).
"I want to be a bad example."
'The Lie Tree' is a fascinating book. It is a quite dark and exceedingly clever mystery set on the murky edge between history and fantasy in the post-Darwin's Origin of the Species 19th century straight-laced Victorian England, touching upon the question of women's role in society, gender roles and expectations, the selective opportunities and blatant disregard and discrimination so absurd as to seem almost fantastical and yet so painfully historically real and true, and the conflict between the new ideas of evolution and the established societal faith-based paradigms which left many feeling that the ground had been yanked from under their feet.
“I have lived long enough to see the death of wonders. Like many others, I have dedicated my life to investigating the marvels and mysteries of Creation, the better to understand the designs of our Maker. Instead, our discoveries have brought us doubt and darkness. Within our lifetime, we have seen Heaven’s lamp smashed and our sacred place in the world snatched from us. We have been dethroned and flung down among the beasts.
We thought ourselves kings of the ages. Now we find that all our civilization has been nothing but a brief, brightly lit nursery, where we have played with paper crowns and wooden sceptres. Beyond the door are the dark wastes where Leviathans wrestled for millennia. We are a blink of an eye, a joke amidst a tragedy.”
And, of course, the nature, allure and perils of lying. The danger and necessity of some lies. The rewards and the consequences of them. The easiness and the speed with which they find a life of their own.
“Choose a lie that others wish to believe, her father had written.”
“Myrtle had once explained to Faith that there was a right way to give an order to a servant. You phrased it as a question to be polite. Will you fetch the tea? Could you please speak with Cook? But instead of your voice pitch going up at the end, you let it droop downward, to show that it was not really a question, and they were not expected to say no.
It occurred to Faith that that was the way her mother talked to her.”
Faith Sunderly is fourteen, "clumsily rocking between childhood and adulthood", occupying that uncertain place in a young girl's life when she is no longer a child but not yet a woman, constantly relegated between the perceived silliness of a child and presumed inferiority as a female. A priest's daughter, Faith is an aspiring natural scientist in a world that traps her by the artificial limitation that Victorian society places on women.
“Faith was full of questions, coiling and writhing like the snake in the crate.”

“There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too. A few stale lessons from tired governesses, dull walks, unthinking pastimes. But it was not enough. All knowledge – any knowledge – called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen.”

“She had always known that she was rated less than Howard, the treasured son. Now, however, she knew that she was ranked somewhere below ‘miscellaneous cuttings’.”
Faith wants it all and nothing unreasonable - the opportunities that are denied to her because of her gender, the recognition of her sharp and clever mind, her father's love and respect - but runs into a brick wall of societal expectations and standards that require her to be a "good girl", obedient, quiet and invisible. As her own much adored father brutally tells her in a moment of anger:
“Listen, Faith. A girl cannot be brave, or clever, or skilled as a boy can. If she is not good, she is nothing. Do you understand?"
And Faith can't help but become angry. Very angry. Angry at the word that insists on putting obstacles in her path and reducing her to a mere pretty ornament. Angry at other women who seem to be so adept at fulfilling their expected societal roles (oh Faith, if you only knew...). Angry at all the thwarted attempts to make a difference, make a mark on this world. Angry at the unknown killers that took her father's life and threaten to destroy her family's normal existence.

And when Faith Sunderly is angry, the fireworks fly.
“People were animals, and animals were nothing but teeth. You bit first, and you bit often. That was the only way to survive.”

“She did not feel hot or helpless any more. She felt the way snakes looked when they moved.”
Had Hardinge been a lesser writer, this could have been a lovely story about a young girl trying to ascertain her place in the hostile world. Or a great mystery story. Or a sharp commentary on the clash of societal values, the intersection of old and new, the faith and science, the progressive and the repressive 'traditionalist' viewpoints. It could have been any of those. But Hardinge is amazing, and this book is all of the above, faultlessly and sharply created, full of nuances and greyness of adulthood replacing the comfortable black-and-white world of childhood and adolescence. It is about not only growing into your own not always nice and good self but also about learning to see the things in yourself and others that go against what is comfortable to think and assume.
"It could be kindness. Faith felt hollow at the thought. She had needed kindness before, and had received none. Now it was too late, and she did not know what to do with it.”

“There was a creeping sensation under Faith’s skin. Just for a moment she wished that she could shed herself like a snake’s skin, and slide away to be somebody new.”

“This was the hardest part. It was easier to be the witch, the harpy. Being human was dangerous.”
It is about understanding the ways you are shaped by your world despite trying so hard not to be. And yet about understanding not only who you are really are but who you want - and need - to be.
“Who had they been, all these mothers and sisters and wives? What were they now? Moons, blank and faceless, gleaming with borrowed light, each spinning loyally around a bigger sphere.
‘Invisible,’ said Faith under her breath. Women and girls were so often unseen, forgotten, afterthoughts. Faith herself had used it to good effect, hiding in plain sight and living a double life. But she had been blinded by exactly the same invisibility-of-the-mind, and was only just realizing it.”

“Faith had always told herself that she was not like other ladies. But neither, it seemed, were other ladies.”
Hardinge weaves such a fascinating story that I've read it twice in a space of three weeks, and it hasn't lost its allure with familiarity. The second read made it even better, and that's not such a frequent occurrence. The wonderfully sharply developed characters, the atmospheric setting of the island of Vane that made me feel that I was there near the cliffs and caves and the sea, the natural dialogue and the utmost feeling of satisfaction at the perhaps best answer to the never-ending questions of 'what will you be when you grow up?'

I hope someday my future hypothetical daughter can quote the cheeky answer of Faith Sunderly when faced with a life choice:
"I want to be a bad example."
5 stars.

My reviews of other books by Frances Hardinge:
A Face Like Glass
Gullstruck Island
Verdigris Deep

2022: Reread with Nastya (who really is not enjoying it) and Stephen (who probably will not be as enthusiastic as me about it). But hey, I had an excuse to revisit it, and I still love it dearly, so there’s that :)


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
May 11, 2015

I’ve made several false starts with this review because I don’t know what to write. How do I describe The Lie Tree?

As a Victorian murder mystery?

As a book about lies and truths and the things that are obvious and the things that are not?

As a tale about filial loyalty?

As a revenge story?

As a look at the ways that women have been made invisible throughout history?

As a feminist triumph?

These are all truths. But they are partial truths because this book is not one thing or another. Just like all of Frances Hardinge’s books before this, The Lie Tree is a complex narrative of subtle interwoven storylines that are surprising, dark, sad and incredibly beautiful. In fact, I’d say this is Hardinge’s most beautiful book to date. That sort of beauty that comes from things that are so real they feel make you like your heart has been pierced. But in the nicest way possible.


As the story starts, Faith’s family is moving to a small island, away from everything they know so that Faith’s father can work at a new fossil excavation. At first greeted with the fanfare an honourable guest deserves, things turn sour very soon when whispers of her father’s possible fraudulent actions reach their retreat. All of a sudden, no one wants to talk to the family. And then, Faith’s father turns up dead.
Ruled an accident but under suspicion of suicide, Faith suspects his death is something else altogether: murder. And deep in her heart she knows she must avenge the death of her dearest one.

And Faith knows exactly what do to, for hidden deep in a cave by the sea, there is a tree that if fed lies, gives out fruits of truth.

What’s most striking about The Lie Tree is that, at face value, this is perhaps Frances Hardinge’s least fantastical book. The most obvious fantasy elements of the plot don’t come into play well into the second half of the novel and even by them, the story remains a murder mystery with a character-driven arc.

I wondered if I was looking at it wrong. Because if we look at the realest aspects of story which describe events that really did happen, thoughts that people did believe, it is easy to be struck by how surreal they read. Because in truth, the further removed we are in time, the more history sounds fantastical to us. In a way, everything about The Lie Tree could be seen as fantastical, especially with regards to gender. But then again: no. Better not to reduce what was very real and very painful to flights of fancy.


I don’t know how to put to words what this book made me feel for its female characters. It was utterly perfection.

The Lie Tree is the story of a young girl – Faith – who is at that moment in time where she is no longer a child but not yet a woman. Faith lives a conflicting life, torn between what she is told about what it means to be a woman and the things that she is not supposed to do, feel and know and the feelings she has, the knowledge she knows and the thoughts she thinks. Constantly at war within herself, Faith strives to be good – but also to be accepted and loved. What she has learned over the years is how to hide, to conceal. In sum, how to become just as invisible as the world expects her to be. But she is ever so angry about it. And watching that anger unleashed was one of the best reading experiences of my life.

At the centre of Faith’s life is the dichotomous separation between her father and mother. She is incredibly loyal to her genius father, a prestigious Natural Scientist just as she completely disdainful of her mother, Myrtle, a lady who uses her looks to get what she wants. It’s the Victorian era and this division of roles and the perceived inherent quality that separates them is at the core of The Lie Tree.

Faith’s long journey to understanding both her father and her mother is one of the main focus of the book. And that journey is interspersed with encounters with a plethora of other ladies. At first Faith’s viewpoint is coloured by her own internalised acceptance of narratives surrounding women. To wit: in the beginning everything is her father and everything is male centric, intelligence and knowledge are relegated to menfolk. The more the story progresses, the more this changes. All of a sudden the women are there, have been there all along and they are something else altogether. Queer ladies, villainous ladies, adapting ladies, awesome ladies, accepting ladies, angry ladies. Myrtle, I adore you.

Invisible women?

Remember: this is a story about lies.


Most of Frances Hardinge’s books to date have one way or another dealt with revolution and politics in a wider scenario. This is also true of The Lie Tree but I’d also say this felt like her most personal book in the way that revolution, politics, evolution affect the social, the intimate, the individual. Everything is politics.

It is deeply touching.


Equally moving are the relationships in the story. The way that Faith’s father breaks her heart. The way Faith breaks her mother’s heart and how they mend their relationship in the end. Faith and her brother Howard have incredibly touching moments.

There is also the never-named relationship between her and local boy Paul. Surprising no one, Frances Hardinge also knows how to write budding romance. Paul and Faith’s friendship is punctuated with delightful rule-breaking, by testing limits and boundaries and seeing how far they can go in the things they say to each other and how much of their real selves they can afford to show. Patriarchy destroys boys’ lives too. And every single scene together is one step further, building up to the most amazing, no-holds-barred talk in the last pages of this novel in which simple yet heart-breaking desires and truths are uttered.

I won’t spoil that conversation. Suffice it to say that never was a line answering the simple question “what do you want to be when you grow up” more thrilling.


Well, here it is. The elusive 10-rated Frances Hardinge book. The Lie Tree is perfect.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,967 followers
February 9, 2017
Thanks goes to Netgalley for the ARC!

1860, and all the true social horrors that the time can bring, can also be a time, in the right writer's hands, that can bring the greatest illumination upon all such subjects of a women's place in our day. Frances Hardinge is truly such a brilliant writer.

I can honestly say without spoiling a thing that this novel does wonderful justice for women and one's self-worth. I think we could all learn from setting such a bad example, and never mind all the missteps and mistakes that Faith will have to take through the novel. I certainly cringed and worried and delighted in all her mistakes and triumphs, even as I grew more and more worried about the eventual outcome.

For this felt like a truly great horror from the very beginning and never once let the tension slide, rocking hard with detail, sharp characterizations, and wonderful reveals. One might call it dark fantasy, of course, or historical fiction with a magical realism bent, or even a fairy tale so rooted in reality that one could never dig deep enough to kill the tree, but alas, it works best as a truly thrilling horror with a wonderful twist.

Can I dance around and whoop with joy, now? You betcha! (Spoiler: I already did.)

The one thing that I'd really like to mention about the book is something I can't really do without giving out some true spoilers, and I'm loath to do so. BUT. I was fascinated with the author's choice of subject material, and for any of you who later have read this great novel, think about this: Don't you think the author, herself, might have thought that this little wonder of a tree might have been absolutely perfect for herself, being a writer of outright lies?

We all know the old adage about writing fiction because it is the surest path to the hidden truths, do we not?

Is this novel not only a perfect tale, but also a bit of a mirror to the fact of her own writing? I think so. And I can't think of a better compliment I could ever give.

Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,873 followers
October 18, 2022
Let me be frank--
"Shawn: As long as I can be Dean and Gus can be Sammy.

Gus: Why do I always have to be Sammy?

Shawn: Fine, he's Sammy. That makes you Joey Bishop. Is that what you really want? You want to be Joey Bishop?"**
Let's start over.

Let me be honest--

The Lie Tree is a perfect example of why I stopped auto-buying authors. I loved Fly by Night (my review), sought out the hardcover and added it to my library. The Lie Tree shares many of the same roots--but grows them in a very different way, emerging a prickling specimen, all nettle leaves and nothing I want to bring home.

Faith Sunderly and her family have suddenly left England for Vane Island on the pretext of a fossil dig in some unusual caves. Along with Faith is her father, the Reverend Erasmus, her mother Myrtle, her younger brother Howard, and Uncle Miles. Although the reasoning seems solid as the Reverend has quite the international reputation for fossils, Faith has been sensing something disastrous lurking at the edges. When they arrive at the island, they and the Reverend's specimen collection are installed in a small house. In their short time, the Reverend and Myrtle manage to alienate many of the island residents, and when the truth of their exile emerges, things go from bad to worse. Faith finds herself trying to understand the adult situation and discover who is behind their troubles.

Plotting is extremely slow; it wasn't until chapter 15 that events really started to cascade. While a slow build was present in Fly by Night, the beginning had a daffy, playful and imaginary setting that kept me intrigued. The island fails to stand out for me; mostly wild, dismal moor; long, ill-kept roads, random caves and wild cliffs. The Reverend acting irrationally. Myrtle seeking normalcy. Howard wanting reassurance. Once I reached the particular event(s), it became easier to stay interested. Alas; it never obtained the heights of 'must finish,' except in the obligatory sense, as in "I must finish reading that ARC for NetGalley."

Writing is solid. Hardinge is an excellent writer, and this is a solid example of her work, but at the risk of sounding redundant, I preferred her flights of fancy in Fly by Night. Much of the strength is saved for descriptions of the science and for musing on Faith's budding feminism. "There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly when at the table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too." Still, I felt a few of her metaphors were forced, awkwardly reflected from Faith's thoughts: "The long journey had left them all depleted, like paintbrushes drawn across a broad stretch of canvas."

The characterization is well done for Faith, but not particularly likable. Faith has the astonishing self-centeredness of many twelve year-olds, and while she is exquisitely attuned to her father and Howard's moods, she echoes the prejudices of her upbringing and is largely oblivious to the lives of the servants and women, although she is coming to understand how her mother manipulates the world around her. "Now she was humbled, desperate to be permitted any part in interesting conversations. Even so, each time she pretended ignorance, she hated herself and her own desperation." She's working hard to understand her family, understand the dynamics of her father's world, so it's easy to root for her until one realizes how misaligned both cause and methods are. Many of the other characters are single note, I suspect partly because of Faith's point of view. However, she does show a depth of understanding of Howard, which is sweet, and eventually comes to understand an island boy. Insight on the lives of older Victorian women is forced upon her by a couple of conversations in the wrap-up.

The fantastical angle to the story come from a plant her father was hiding from everyone, although Faith managed to find out the secret. The tree grows in absolute darkness, seemingly fed on lies. Hardinge loses a bit of her tale here, building too many metaphors; is this a tree from the Garden of Eden that confirms Biblical history? Is it an observable, measurable quantity that confirms Darwinism? Do lies give truth, or breed more lies? Does it matter if you can make money off it? Considering what Faith learns later, isn't everyone kind of lying most of the time, so why aren't these trees everywhere?

The ending sort of satisfied, until I thought more about the implications. I'm not sure Faith learned the right lessons at the end; perhaps what Hardinge wrote was the YA Victorian equivalent of Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold. Which may, after all, be Hardinge's point, but frankly, I'm going to resist learning her lesson.

Just call me Frank.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Abrams for the ARC.

Two and a half prickly stars

**From the show Psyche. I know most of you won't get this. But I do, and it's super funny to me. Welcome to my brain.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,465 reviews9,619 followers
October 22, 2018
I'm going to leave this at a 3 for now. I liked it, but there were some things so it might just be my mood! I hope I'm not coming up on a book slump!! I mean real life is causing me some probs so I will reread it again later.

Happy Reading!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Hugh.
1,256 reviews49 followers
December 1, 2016
I don't read children's books very often, but the fact that this one won the overall Costa prize, backed up by a couple of positive friend reviews here, persuaded to make an exception. The basic premise of a plant that thrives on human lies takes some swallowing, but if you accept that, it is a terrific feminist subversion of the classic adventure story genre, and a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews365 followers
February 7, 2020
Tell me lies , tell me sweet little lies...

Oh, No!...
Not silly, mean, small, insignificant lies!
Let them be huge, outrageous, extraordinary, gigantic!
Feed me a juicy, spicy lie, one of those everyone can't stop chatting about...
One of those everybody claims to believe, and I'll reward you with the most valuable, precious secrete!
I trade lies for strong, powerful trues!
Cos I'm the Lie Tree, and that's my exclusive magnanimous endowment!!!

Besides entertainning, this fantasy is also about the power of lies! 😉

“Choose a lie that others wish to believe” ... “They will cling to it, even if it is proven false before their face. If anyone tries to show them the Truth, they will turn on them and fight them tooth and nail.”

“There were kind lies. You still look beautiful. I love you. I forgive you.
There were frightened lies. Someone else must have taken it. Of course I am Anglican. I never saw that baby before.
There were predatory lies. Buy this tonic if you want your child to recover. I will look after you. Your secret is safe with me.
Half-lies, and the tense little silences where a truth should have been. Lies like knives, lies like poultices. The tiger's stripe, and the fawn's dusky dapple. And everywhere, everywhere, the lies that people told themselves. Dreams like cut flowers, with no nourishing root. Will-o'-the-wisp lights to make them feel less alone in the dark. Hollow resolutions and empty excuses.”

Curiously, when we think about a good lie, we can easily picture a tree -- it has a strong root and grows all over several branches 😉👍
Profile Image for Justine.
1,133 reviews309 followers
October 22, 2022
There was a hunger in her, and girls were not supposed to be hungry. They were supposed to nibble sparingly at table, and their minds were supposed to be satisfied with a slim diet too.

The Lie Tree is set in Victorian era England, where 14 year old Faith and her family have recently left Kent for the small island of Vane. Faith's father, Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, is a renowned naturalist, and the family is ostensibly accompanying him on a trip to oversee the excavation of some usual fossils discovered in a cave on Vane. Faith learns rather quickly, however, that the real reason for the trip is that her father's scientific reputation is under fire, and as a result, the social standing of the family is in decline.

Faith doesn't fit into the structure that her family and society expect of her. She longs for knowledge, and recognising that it won't be given to her freely, learns that she must take what she needs on her own initiative. She desperately wants her father's love and approval, but it becomes increasingly clear that his image of what is appropriate for women cannot move beyond what has been so concretely moulded by his 19th Century sensibilities.

Listen, Faith. A girl cannot be brave, or clever, or skilled as a boy can. If she is not good, she is nothing.

Despite that slap in face, Faith remains steadfast in her loyalty to her father. So when he asks for her help with something he wants to keep secret, she readily agrees. It is only later, after things start to unravel, that Faith starts to question some of the things that she previously believed to be unshakeable truths about her family and also her place in the world.

This is a battlefield, Faith! Women find themselves on battlefields, just as men do. We are given no weapons, and cannot be seen to fight. But fight we must, or perish.

Being set in Victorian England makes The Lie Tree a slightly less fantastical tale than some of Hardinge's previous work, but her writing has lost none of its magic. It is both a mystery and a coming of age tale told with signature Hardinge style. While Cuckoo Song remains my favourite Hardinge book, I definitely recommend The Lie Tree.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,459 reviews8,561 followers
September 29, 2018
I felt super in the middle about this one. On one hand, I appreciated Faith's budding feminism, her fierce determination and her defiance of authority. On the other, I struggled to care much about the characters and the plot felt slow and uninteresting. While I liked reading about the complex and sometimes contradictory motives of women living in a patriarchal society, I struggled to see why Faith defended her father when he acted like such a misogynist. Despite my lukewarm reaction to the book, I would tentatively recommend it to fans of young-adult paranormal books who find its synopsis interesting. Yay for books with female characters who kick butt even when encouraged not to.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews365 followers
March 1, 2018
O Poder da Mentira

Traz-me uma mentira suculenta, daquelas bem badaladas, em que todos acreditem, e eu recompenso-te com o mais inestimável dos segredos.
Eu troco mentiras infames por verdades secretas -- sou a Árvore das Mentiras, e é esse o meu Dom, Apanágio e Poder!!!...

Faith é rebelde -- curiosa e irreverente, rejeita com veemência a máscara de menina bem comportada que a sociedade vitoriana lhe impõe!

“Havia nela uma fome, e as meninas não deviam ter fome. As meninas deviam mordiscar calmamente a comida à mesa, e a sua mente devia ficar satisfeita com uma dieta reduzida: umas quantas lições mortiças de governantas cansadas, passeios desinteressantes, passatempos que não obrigavam a pensar. Só que a dela não ficava. O conhecimento — fosse ele qual fosse — exercia uma enorme atração sobre Faith, que sentia um delicioso e virulento prazer em roubá-lo sem que ninguém desse conta disso”

Empenhada na investigação do que acredita ser um crime, descobre a Árvore das Mentiras -- uma árvore que metaboliza mentiras em verdades. Aqueles que ingerem os seus frutos apoderam-se dos mais valiosos segredos!...

Além de entreter, esta fantasia é uma reflexão sobre as mentiras e o seu poder intrínseco:

“Faith começava a perceber que a mentira era como o fogo. A princípio, tinha de ser alimentada com muito jeito e com todo o cuidado; era preciso dar-lhe um pouco de ar, para atiçar as chamas recentes, mas, se o sopro fosse demasiado forte, apagava-as de uma vez. Algumas mentiras pegavam e espalhavam-se, crepitando de excitação, e deixando de precisar de alimento; e, quando isso acontecia, deixavam de ser de quem as tinha produzido, adquiriam vida própria e deixava de haver maneira de as controlar.”

A mentira que dura e perdura é invariavelmente, aquela que reúne mais adeptos:

"Escolhe uma mentira em que os outros queiram acreditar. Assim, hão de agarrar-se a ela, mesmo que lhes provem que se trata de uma falsidade. E, se alguém tentar mostrar-lhes a verdade, voltar-se-ão contra esse com unhas e dentes.”

Curiosamente, uma boa mentira é estruturalmente equiparável a uma árvore:
Tem um berço ou raiz, e vai crescendo, espraiando-se por múltiplos ramos ;)
Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
315 reviews1,969 followers
July 18, 2017
I don't care what your book taste is - if you don't read this one, you're depriving yourself. Think secret letters, scandal, dark caves, the Enlightenment, family loyalty/betrayal, and hallucinogens. Engrossing, intricate, atmospheric, moving, and entertaining as hell. For me, its only flaw is that it ended.
Profile Image for cyborgcinderella.
164 reviews21 followers
May 18, 2016
I really don't know how this book got such great reviews and won such a supposedly wonderful award. I was incredibly disappointed by this novel and honestly, this book was so boring for so much of the story that it made me sleepy.

Truthfully my biggest problem with this book is that the summary and the title are misleading. The summary implies that Faith, the main character, is some kind of spy who puts on a facade that hides her true nature. In reality, Faith is a young girl who lives in the Victorian era, where women are expected to be silent and invisible and only get a husband. Faith, however, wants to pursue the natural sciences like her father, but every time she tries, she is deemed ignorant, insolent, and improper. So she's less of a spy and more of a girl living in a terrible time who can't really do much because of her gender, despite her attempts to overcome such barriers.

This part really frustrated me. Unlike Jane Austen, who manages to show how silly the gender barriers were in her time period while still maintaining them for the story, Hardinge just shows how awful things were for women without the nuanced mockery. Instead of poking fun at the ridiculous expectations for women, she just beats you over the head with how unfair things are for Faith. It made it really hard to want to continue reading this book when it was so bleak and upsetting. And that's what you have to deal with for the first 100 or so pages, which to me is about the point where you should be either fully invested in the story or ready to give up. The only thing that kept me reading was my desire to finally see the lie tree (because yes, you haven't even really seen the lie tree at this point either) and to know who had killed her father.

Which brings me to my next point: her father doesn't even die until about 120 pages into the story. So the first quarter of the book hasn't even touched on the main plot of the story: Faith trying to find out what actually happened to her father. And even that doesn't really begin until about half way through the book. And you don't see the lie tree up until that point either.

For a book called "the lie tree," you would think you would get more substance about the lie tree. Instead, the chapters where you see how the lie tree works and what happens when she eats fruit from the tree are probably the shortest chapters in the book. Her visions after she eats the fruit only last 2 or 3 pages, and they are incredibly vague and unsatisfying. Even the lies she tells and the way she gets people to believe them aren't really well developed. I was so intrigued by the concept of a lie tree, but the concept was more interesting than the way it was portrayed. Very disappointed with that aspect of the book.

The last 100 pages were the best part because that was when the plot actually picked up. My problem with the ending, though, was that it felt so rushed. The reveal of the murderer and the ensuing chase that occurs was too quick, and the relationship between two of the characters was thrown in so haphazardly, it almost seemed like the author wanted to get points for representation without actually giving them any page time or really developing their relationship. I would have loved to have known more about those characters instead of only finding out about them in the last 20 pages.

It felt like a huge disservice to the readers to spend the first quarter of the book on something so dismal. I wish more time had been devoted to solving the murder, to the relationship between two of the characters, and to the lie tree (especially this part since it's the name of the book!). The book would have been much better if the first 100 pages were cut, and that writing time was spent on what the summary claimed the book was about.
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
512 reviews298 followers
June 7, 2016
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner !

Beware spoilers ahead!


I heard about this book through a GR friend's review. It sounded interesting and I was happy to see that it was coming in my library. Unfortunately I didn't like.

The book begins with Faith's family traveling. Faith's little brother asks why they are traveling and their mother says that it's for their father's work. When her brother mentions that they never needed to come for their father's traveling. Their mother responds that this is a vacation for them.

Their mother then tells Faith that she's happy that Faith hasn't asked any questions. Faith is bursting with questions. She has the same questions as her brother and more. But as a Lady she is not supposed to ask any questions just do as she is told.

Faith claims that her stomach is hurting and goes for a walk. Faith then takes an about turn and listens in on a conversation with her uncle and father. Her father mentions that he is not happy that he had to come here. Her uncle then replies that they didn't have a choice. The public believe that her father is a fraud and they would've all suffered.

The reason I didn't finish this is because I didn't feel anything. I didn't care that Faith's father was supposedly a cheat. I had no interest in continuing further. I've rated it 2 stars because the premise sounds interesting and the writing style was well done.

Overall I had no interest in this book. I still recommend it to fans of murder mystery with a hint of paranormal.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
September 14, 2017
* I was sent this for free from the publisher in exchange for a review *

So, I finally got around to reading some of Hardinge's work, and it was about time too. For months I've been planning to buy this one and read it, so when the publisher offered me this stunning illustrated edition of course I said yes please happily. I already knew that I would love the art if nothing else because Chris Riddell is an excellent illustrator so no surprises there, however, I also found myself really liking the story, and I'm now keen to try out Hardinge's other works.

This story follows a young girl called Faith, daughter of a socialite mother and a natural scientist father. She's a young girl who loves a good mystery and adventure, and she's keen to prove her skills and passion to her father who is distant from her and frequently angry. Faith's determination and resilience really impressed me, particularly considering this is set in a time of revolution and change, Faith realises a lot about the world and herself over the course of the story, and this was a key element I loved.

We follow Faith and her family (she has a younger brother called Howard too) as they move to an island away from England and a scandal that seems to be following her father. At first Faiths not quite sure what the scandal relates to so she has to do some digging and investigating to figure it out, but when she does she realises it's worse than expected, and soon after that someone ends up dead...

Faith's tenacity and ability to bounce back surprised me a lot but the real fun comes later in the book when the magic lie tree is introduced. This is almost a character in its own right because it has a sort of life to it and feeds on the lies that various people have told it, growing vast and menacing with time. I have to say there is something quite ominous about a great nasty tree being a character, and the strange encounters it offered were slightly creepy at times.

What I like about Hardinge's writing is that she's not afraid to have death and sadness, betrayal and action all in a kid's read. I do think this is a book that older children and young adults would really enjoy because it has a lot of fire inside and feels like it's a rip-roaring adventure. With that said, it does focus on a female character and breaks down many of the tropes that surround femininity and what females can do, so although I think it would appeal to both sexes, I would highly recommend it to young girls to read and feel inspired to follow their dreams.

In the end I gave this one a 4*s as it was thoroughly enjoyable and felt like a great adventure. I would highly recommend this and I look forward to reading many more of her books as I know there are plenty! It's also really nice to have a solid standalone story :)
February 6, 2017

This was my local book club read for last month. Very different to my normal read, very well written but maybe slightly slow in places for my tastes. My book club group of about ten ladies were split on their opinion with half really enjoying and half having the same opinion as myself. It offered us ladies lots of discussion on the equality of woman, the narrative style and the irony depicted at the end and for those elements alone this was a great choice for our monthly book club outing.

Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,263 reviews222 followers
May 7, 2016
A wonderfully intricate story of community, family, truth and lies done as a Victorian murder mystery/dark fantasy.

Faith Sunderly and her family have moved to the small island of Vane as a refuge from the society gossip around her disgraced father. The people of the island initially welcome them, but fairly quickly the rumors about her father travel even to remote Vane and the family is again in disgrace. Faith's father is found dead soon after, an apparent suicide. Only Faith believes otherwise, but the restrictions placed on a young woman in Victorian times make it difficult to pursue, but she does. In the process she discovers the focus of her father's obsession: the Lie Tree, which grows only in darkness and gives the fruit of secret truth when fed with lies.

First impressions of her parents have her mother as vain and shallow and her father as a strict obsessive authoritarian. Nothing is that simple here, either with these characters or any other of the intricate characters throughout the book. The effects of the various truths and lies here are played out through the characters, with even relatively harmless falsehoods told to deserving victims being shown to full effect.

The murder mystery is also brilliantly done, with many suspects throughout. In typical murder mystery fashion there were several times I was thinking, "I bet so-and-so did it" only to change my mind a few pages later. And it all seamlessly blends with the dark fantasy and character elements.

And you get all this through a filter into Victorian England and some of its oddities like mourning portraits and ratting pits. There's also a sub-plot of Darwin's introduction of evolution and the sort of impact it's having on the intellectual people of this time, including Faith's father who is an Anglican Rector, but also a natural scientist interested in fossils. And of course, it's deeply feminist, looking at the role of women as wives, servants, would-be scientists and how it all fits with the society at the time.

I'll end this by repeating Patrick Ness's blurb of this:

The Lie Tree is brilliant: dark, thrilling, utterly original. Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,931 reviews3,403 followers
February 25, 2019
I must admit that I only picked this book up a few years ago because Chris Riddell had illustrated my edition.
I had no idea who the author is or what the book was about and as you can see, it took me a while to finally read it. For which I want to kick myself now.

We are in a fictional Victorian era and follow the girl Faith as she, her bother and her parents depart London for the fictional island of Vane to escape a scandal surrounding Faith's father. Naturally, as was the case especially back then, the children don't really know what's going on - least of all Faith as she is "only" a girl.
Their arrival is already overshadowed but shortly later, things take a nasty turn.
In her father's journals, curious and strong-willed Faith discovers the secret that lies at the heart of everything that has happened to her family: the Lie Tree. But does it really posess the powers her father described? Can't hurt to try, right? Besides, the people on the island deserve no better.

The author managed to suck me into this grim world from page one. Girls are worth less than boys (if they are worth anything), children are indebted to their parents for the food and clothes they are given, wives have distinct roles and shall adhere to strict rules and regulations lest they think and act for themselves. The outward polish is everything. Beware what the neighbours say! And boy, do these neighbours like to gossip - and in a way that actually ruins the lives of those the gossip is about!

Faith is a breath of fresh air for us modern readers here. She doesn't care, she can barely hold her true nature in, and that true nature is shining brilliantly like the sun. We therefore struggle with her, feel for her, share her agony, want to smack these people across their faces.
I can't say the same for her brother. Sure, he's quite young, but I can compare him to other (real-life) children of that age and his character definitely isn't very flattering then.
And don't get me started on the mother! Some will say she means well but the question is: for whom?! She's not only vain and arrogant, she's ... a perfectly sensible snake indeed.
Other characters include the island's doctor who measures skulls and thinks women having smaller heads is proof that we're also less intelligent than men.

Moreover, the book certainly carries a bit of a religious / mythological theme. It's only natural since the father is a Reverend. Who, funnily enough, has a live snake as a pet. *lol* A very cute and affectionate snake that I instantly fell in love with!

Anyway, it was quite a good way of showcasing old worldviews clashing with more modern ones or even with science.

The central theme are, of course, lies. Their nature, how people use them or are their victims. How people are shaped by them. And what Faith learns about them and herself while feeding the Lie Tree to uncover the truth that she hopes can save her family.

The book is full of beautiful imagery and Chris Riddell had a fantastic way of bringing that to life. Some of his illustrations are like scribbles in the margins, others frame a chapter's headline and others are full-page (or double-page) pictures. One can smell the salty ocean air, hear the vines creep over the cave's rocks and is instantly transported onto this strange and treacherous island.

Since I read my print copy alongside the audio version, I must also praise Emilia Fox for her spot-on narration that convincingly portrayed Howard's frustration, Myrtle's guile, Faith's passion and that brought to life not only all the other people but the Lie Tree itself.
Profile Image for Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile).
821 reviews122 followers
December 8, 2017
2017 Reading Challenge
This year I'm doing a Reading Challenge; so I have 26 books with specific subjects that I need to read.
BOOK25: An award-winning book

List of awards:
Costa Book Award for Children's Book (2015)
Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature (2016)
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction (2016)
Costa Book of the Year (2015)

This is my first book by Frances Hardinge.
I brought a stack of hardcovers on special and got four of her books, The Lie Tree, Fly by Night, Twilight Robbery and A Face Like Glass. So when my challenge required to read an award-winning book I knew most of Hardinge's books got rewards and just picked up The Lie Tree.

I was a bit disappointed starting out, because the pace was deadening. The first 40% of this book is a drag. I totally get why so many people DNF it. BUT if you push yourself through that 40% it turns into this amazing empowering story; with a witty female protagonist that will lit your soul on fire.
I believe by the end of this book I was so totally in love with the idea behind this story that the slow part didn't even influence my rating choice.

I will most definitely be picking up the other books I have of Hardinge!
Profile Image for nastya .
418 reviews257 followers
October 19, 2022
I read this novel first time years before becoming a fan of Frances Hardinge and was always wondering afterwards why I gave it such a lukewarm rating and why I remember nothing from this book. Well, mystery solved!

It’ll be brief and spoilerific. Let’s go!

This book bored me with the story that was not moving at all for the two thirds of the book and the unlikable protagonist. But then in the last 100 pages the plot picked up and I thought I might even enjoy it in the end. And then there was that ending.

For the book that relentlessly pounded you with an unsubtle message about women oppression, it was kinda unfortunate that the ending gave us an ambitious woman as a villain and murderer while the conforming woman who acts as weak and manipulates men (working with the system) is a good one, don’t you think? (The ambitious evil one and the weak one are of the same age but the former looks ugly and old!) And since our heroine Faith was going down that road, the message seems to be - don’t be too ambitious and obsessed with your passions I guess. Even though I liked at first "an invisible woman using her invisibility in society to puppet master the show". Muddled messaging. Very Disney messaging. For the kids.

There was also something about religion but it didn’t go anywhere. Religion is threatened by Darwinism and we have a literal Tree of knowledge. But Frances seems to be using it just for imagery. The conclusion of that one is "science good, everything mysterious is just not yet explained by it". Ok, got it, thanks.

In conclusion, this was a boring condescending book with muddled messaging and obnoxious protagonist, definitely by far my least favorite of Frances Hardinge.
Profile Image for Holly Bourne.
Author 26 books5,436 followers
March 30, 2016
I don't know how to review this book, as I've literally never read anything quite like it before. It is truly an original and a masterpiece and deserves every INCH of praise it's been getting. It is dark and complex and beautiful and compelling and sad and scary and funny and imaginative and...and...can you tell I loved it? It's also a feminist triumph! Just. Read. It.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
293 reviews174 followers
October 9, 2021
Novela en principio destinada al público juvenil, ambientada en la época victoriana.

La trama, de misterio, ciencia y aventura, está narrada de forma cautivadora.

Buen desarrollo de los personajes, sobre los que destaca Faith, la protagonista, una adolescente inteligente y capaz.

Muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,206 followers
October 25, 2015
The Lie Tree is the third title I have read by British author Frances Hardinge and I am as struck with it as I was by the other two.

But first, the premise.

Faith and her family move to an unnamed island under the shadow of a scandal that accompanies her father’s anthropological findings. Rumours abound that the nephilim bones he discovered are fake and constructed by human, rather than divine, devices. Faith, despite never getting any encouragement to do so, idolizes her father. Even though all hope rests on her younger brother to follow their father and express the brilliance he is known for, it is Faith who has inherited his quickness of mind and strength of spirit. But she is a girl who will grow up to be a woman and everyone knows women cannot be clever. When her father is found dead, everyone except Faith thinks that he, unable to bear the burden of his shame of his destroyed reputation, committed suicide. Faith knows better and she is determined to prove it. That’s when she comes upon the lie tree: her father’s prized possession and his greatest shame.

I would challenge anyone who scoffs at the lack of sophistication in children’s literature to read a Hardinge novel and still hold on to their preconceived notions. Both The Cuckoo Song and A Face Like Glass were notable for the complexity of both their narratives and the language used to tell their stories. The Lie Tree is no different. Hardinge’s wordsmithery is superlative; she rules the English language with a finesse that I rarely see (and I don’t say this lightly). The subtlety with which she makes her point is remarkable. Observe:

Myrtle had once explained to Faith that there was a right way to given an order to a servant. You phrased it as a question to be polite. Will you fetch the tea? Could you please speak with Cook? But instead of your voice pitch going up at the end, you let it droop downwards, to show that it was not really a question, and they were not expected to say no.

It occurred to Faith that her mother talked to her that way all the time.


The beautiful prose allows the story to unfurl gradually until all the elements are in place. Then the narrative pace increases incrementally until we are barreling to a satisfying conclusion.

I have always loved heroines whose morals are murky, who straddle the fence between good and bad. Rather than saccharine good girls who have thick white lines drawn between good and evil, I am weak for protagonists who understand (perhaps without accepting) their darker nature. I think you will agree that flawed protagonists are much more fun to read about.

Faith knows what is expected of her but her intelligence, her cleverness, refuses to let her settle for being a second-rate player in her own life. She knows the presumptions society has about women and, in her mother, she can see the undesirable (to her) qualities that make a “good” woman. But she is very much her father’s daughter and her curiousity is a hunger that she doesn’t usually try very hard to suppress. I love that Faith’s intelligence is not just pontificated about but actually manifests itself in her actions as she goes about solving her father’s murder. While she is expressed as an authentic child, the gravity and determination of will she expresses belie her young age.

The relationships she forges with the many grownups in her life, the way she manipulates the pastor’s son, her desperation to win over her father’s regard, and her ability to cede to her own limits make her into one of more compelling protagonists I have had the pleasure of reading in a while.

I also love that though fraught with hostilities initially, Faith and her mother come to an understanding and their relationship begins anew with each of them understanding and appreciating the other for what they are. Many times, in historical novels especially, the mother’s fluffiness is used as a foil for the protagonist’s more serious (and more modern) sensibilities but Hardinge takes care to be fair in her portrayal.

All said and done, The Lie Tree is a gem of a novel with as much appeal (if not more) for adult readers as middle-grade readers. It will be an awesome addition to any library. Very much recommended.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 168 books37.5k followers
March 3, 2016
Copy received courtesy of NetGalley

The Lie Tree is set in the UK ten years after Darwin’s Origin of Species was published.

Faith is a young teen fiercely interested in the natural sciences, an interest she shares with her famous father, who is also an Anglican minister. When I saw that, I hailed it with inner relief, thinking that finally here would be a book that wrestles with the changing of a paradigm, without going down the usual over-simplification trail by making religious faith and scientific endeavor mutually exclusive. With, of course, the religious characters being narrow-minded, clinging to ignorance, and petty, if not downright eeevil.

Nope, it turned out that Hardinge was trotting down that well-worn path—while offering a fantastical element .

The two never fit together well, and it’s not helped by the fact that pretty much all the characters are hateful until the last portion of the book, with an extra helping of anger about how women are suppressed and erased by the Victorian ideal of innocence and frailty.

The women in the story turn out to be interesting (unlike the men) but it takes nearly the entire book to get there. Faith eventually redeems herself, too, when it’s almost too late to care. Hardinge’s writing is vivid and strong—there is a powerfully insightful comment about love that, had the rest of the book been raised to match it, would have made it the best book ever—which carried me through to the end in a story I would have abandoned in lesser hands.

She also gives us two interesting characters in two boys, Faith’s brother Howard, and Paul Clay, a boy Faith’s age, which relieved the unrelenting pettiness and meanness of the story enough to get me through to the payoff.

Apparently this book won a prestigious award before its US release, making me wonder if it was in part due to Victorian Anglicans being a popular target for getting a hate on that one can feel totally self-righteous about.
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
569 reviews3,934 followers
November 21, 2021
Quizás sería más un 2,5 estrellas porque me aburrió mucho. Pero en realidad me gusta cómo está escrito, la idea general del libro, todos los detalles culturales de la época y la evolución de los personajes.... aún así por alguna razón no conecté en ningún momento con la historia ni los personajes (especialmente con la protagonista repelente), y mira que yo soy muy de middle grade oscurillos pero no. Creo que si hubiera tenido 200 páginas en vez de 500 lo hubiera disfrutado más, pero al final es una lectura que no terminé de disfrutar de todo.
Aún así, como digo el estilo de la autora me gustó y creo que trataré de darle otra oportunidad...
Profile Image for Tori (InToriLex).
460 reviews360 followers
March 15, 2016
Find this and other Reviews at In Tori Lex
Actual Rating 3.5
I usually avoid historical fiction because I know it's a genre that's hard for me to enjoy. But after reading many four starred ratings of this on Goodreads, I decided to take a chance. While reading the first 35% of the book I was regretting that decision and was tempted to stop reading because it started off very slow. However since I had already committed to giving it a try, I powered through and was able to immerse myself in and enjoy the rest of the book. Faith is a very smart and clever girl who has to deal with a society which dismisses her entire gender as fragile and inferior. She quickly learns how to play on those low expectations and sets a plan in motion to discover exactly what happened to her father.

"When every door is closed, one learns to climb through windows."

The character development was great. I began the book disliking most of the characters because of their backward thinking and inability to listen to others. While learning more about them I warmed up to the different personalities. Even How, Faith's little brother who is spoiled throughout the book becomes more sympathetic and less annoying. Once Faith sets out to discover what the lie tree is, and how she can use it, the mystery unravels in a enjoyable whirl wind. The island itself provides a dreary but appropriate backdrop to the Faith's lies and hysteria those lies cause. The author is able to describe imaginative and creative vision sequences, that enhanced my reading experience.

"Zeal was like gas most dangerous when you could not see it. The wrong spark could light it at any time."

Beyond the mystery involved with the lie tree, is a family trying to keep themselves together and persevere through mistreatment and ill fortune. Faith refused to back down from what she knew, or to give up. Despite physical and verbal assaults against her and her family she never doubts herself, and is able to seek out and reveal the truth. Despite the beginning, I still enjoyed reading on and finding out the nature of the lie tree. I would recommend this to fans of historical fiction, who can handle a slow start and enjoys mysteries.

I received this e-book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Tijana.
734 reviews191 followers
July 12, 2017
Drvo laži ima tri bitna aspekta:
- viktorijanski krimić
- fantastika s malim otklonom ka hororu
- feminizam.

Krimić je tu zapravo najgore prošao jer: Viktorijanština je, naprotiv, odrađena verodostojno i uz lepo poznavanje nekih bizarnijih istorijskih momenata (i bar jednu solidnu grešku jer se u opisano doba već *uglavnom* imovina samoubica nije oduzimala od njihovih naslednika).
Fantastični element je, da ne spojlujem previše, urađen lepo i baš kako treba, sa dozom pseudonaučnih objašnjenja kakva su se mogla smisliti upravo u opisano doba: drvo koje raste u mraku, hrani se lažima i zauzvrat rađa gadne male plodove koji vam otkrivaju istinu ako ih pojedete.
Što se feminizma tiče: čitav roman može da se čita kao analiza toga kako su britanski zakoni i običaji uticali na formiranje ženskog karaktera (negativno) u okruženju u kome žena srednje klase najčešće nije mogla ni da studira ni da se bavi nekom profesijom ni da radom stiče imovinu ni da upravlja onom koju eventualno ima nego ono - ili se udaš ili budeš guvernanta/siromašna rođaka ili te čeka sudbina gora od smrti tj prosjačenje i prostitucija. I svi ženski likovi su svesni svoje nemoći i potisnuto besni i na neki način pokušavaju da se izbore sa takvim položajem i to ih čini realističnim i često realistično ne mnogo simpatičnim - recimo, glavna junakinja koja sa svojih četrnaest godina baš ima mnogo problema u životu ali je autorka ne prikazuje kao cmoljavu nego kao permanentno ljutu iza mišje neupadljive fasade.

Za vreme čitanja više puta sam pomislila na Vilkija Kolinsa koji je takođe pisao viktorijanske (po prirodi stvari) krimiće sa jakim i nestandardnim ženskim likovima (Marijana Halkomb 4eva!) ali nikad sebi ne bi dozvolio da tako zabrlja sa poznavanjem britanskog naslednog prava :) pa ono, sad mi se čita "Žena u belom", po peti put.
Profile Image for Jules.
1,048 reviews185 followers
May 4, 2015
The Lie Tree is a ‘fantastic’ tale, in the true sense of the word. It is imaginative, extraordinary, dark and at times magical. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything quite like it.

This is a historical novel that focuses on a teenage girl called Faith, her challenging relationship with her parents, and her struggle to be taken seriously as an intelligent young woman in a society that thinks women should be seen and not heard, and shouldn’t worry their tiny little brains with intellectual matters.

The death of Faith’s father throws her into a personal mission to find out the cause of his death. As she looks through her father’s books and written notes, she discovers the truth about a secret tree her father has been keeping hidden. A magical tree that needs to have lies whispered to it. The bigger the lie, the bigger the fruit. What consequences will knowing about this tree have for Faith?

This story covers religious faith, the challenge of faith versus science, death, friendship, and the truly bizarre. It is happy, sad, serious, sometimes funny, dark and hopeful.

It is really hard to place this book into one genre, as there is the murder mystery, the feministic attitude of Faith and her struggle because of this, and the fantasy aspect of a truly unusual and magical tree.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes something a little bit bizarre, while still containing serious historical topics and a thrilling murder mystery. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed this, but it would also be suitable for those who enjoy Young Adult books, and older children and teenage readers who like a bit of depth to their stories. I would definitely have enjoyed reading this in my early teens.

I would like to thank the publisher, Pan Macmillan (Macmillan Children's Books), for allowing me a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Robyn.
827 reviews132 followers
May 4, 2016
4.5 stars that I'm rounding down.

Things you should know about this book - it's beautifully written and almost claustrophobic in its depiction of the narrow social sphere available to 19th century women; it is almost more of a historical novel than speculative fiction; and it is so so so so slow in the first half. (This is why I rounded down). All of a sudden, though, about halfway through, the slow burn suddenly ignites and oh boy I could not put this down.
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