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The Lost Conspiracy

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,534 ratings  ·  448 reviews

On an island of sandy beaches, dense jungles, and slumbering volcanoes, colonists seek to apply archaic laws to a new land, bounty hunters stalk the living for the ashes of their funerary pyres, and a smiling tribe is despised by all as traitorous murderers. It is here, in the midst of ancient tensions and new calamity, that two sisters are caught in a deadly web of decei

Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published December 16th 2008)
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aquiverofwords Honestly, yes. It's pretty creepy, but not as creepy as The Cuckoo Song and The Lie Tree. The world is amazing, though, and really rich and three dime…moreHonestly, yes. It's pretty creepy, but not as creepy as The Cuckoo Song and The Lie Tree. The world is amazing, though, and really rich and three dimensional. The characters are also extremely likeable in the way all Frances Hardinge characters are. You should definitely give this book a try cause you said you love how she writes and this is a prime example of her writing!

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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"Well, what did I want, recognition? No, Hathin realized, I did everything I did because, well, I’m me."
Frances Hardinge and her oddball magical fantastical stories that, far from the simplicity often expected of books aimed at slightly less wrinkled audience, are filled with thought-provoking multilayered and often ambiguous complexity, are undoubtedly my best literary discovery of 2013 so far. Her stories are soaked in belief that children's literature can in no way be inferior to that meant
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, ya, read-in-2011
I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like The Lost Conspiracy. Maybe that’s why this book isn’t very well known: it’s hard to describe, let alone label, package, and sell. This book is just amazing though; it’s like a triple whammy of great writing, fully realized and complex characters, and an amazing story. So seriously, just stop reading this review right now and go get it.

Still here? Okay, okay, keep going. But just know that I will be harping on about this book in various and annoyin
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I think that as adult reviewers of books for children and teens we have a duty to separate ourselves from our material and give our books an impartial eye, one and all. As a reviewer, I don’t know how wise it is for me to get as excited as a ten-year-old when the newest book from a favorite children’s author comes out. If I adopt a fangirl mindset then how impartial a reviewer can I be? I have a requirement, nay, a duty to not enjoy a book too much when I read it. I must remain calm and cool and ...more
How funny to think that when I read this I would never have anticipated my entire Masters thesis research would begin by centering around ideas that this book has perfected.

This really really deserves an amazing review. I can't write even a half decent one right now - not until work is over for the year and christmas and all its madness has passed, and I can sit down and try and formulate words that might, maybe, come close to describing this book. Another read may be in order. (Another read is
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
While Cuckoo Song remains my favourite Hardinge book, Gullstruck Island is very good. I continue to be amazed by the depth of creativity and fine quality of writing that are trademark elements in all of Hardinge's work.

The island setting is richly detailed in geography and culture, and the characters are, as always, impressively singular. True to all of Hardinge's tales this story has some exceptionally dark elements, and delves deep into the relationships that bind people together, whether thro
Ana’s Take:

This probably sounds extremely clichéd, but reading a Frances Hardinge book is like entering a whole new world. Take Gullstruck Island for example: where consuming a certain type of fish allows one a glimpse of the future; where a beetle song is deadly; and where different peoples fight for survival, as the places for the honoured dead expand at the expense of the places for the living. On one small corner of the island, the Lace – who smile all the time with their adorned teeth and w
Feb 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Straight up, I'm not going to do this justice. It's so good in ways I'm still trying to fully articulate a week later.

It's young adult fantasy about post-colonialism. Also sisters, and secrets, and revenge, and people who can fling their senses hundreds of miles away, and ashes, and volcanic love triangles (Me: It has volcanic love triangles! My girlfriend: . . . Their love is so hot? Me: No, I mean there's three volcanoes. In a love triangle.)

It's a book that spends hundreds of pages teetering,
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
It's difficult for me to imagine reading a Frances Hardinge novel as a young child. Although her books are marketed as being Middle Grade, I fervently wish I could travel to every library and bookstore and rip off that constricting label. If there is any author whose writing transcends all ages and successfully manages to write complex stories that are never dumbed down for a younger audience, it is Frances Hardinge. Although The Lost Conspiracy is not my favorite Hardinge novel - A Face Like Gl ...more
I'm loving this. Because of the setting and audience, it's natural to think of Nation. I love books where characters are trying to think their way out of their difficulties, and Hathin definitely is.

I agonized a bit about attaching the "autism" label, because there isn't anything explicit in the text. But Arilou's bahavior, as viewed by Hathin, sounds familiar, especially the flapping hands. Likewise, although the story is set generations after the colonials arrive, we're given some of the first
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Heidi by: Amy
Frances Hardinge’s Twitter profile describes her “Writer of downright odd children’s books. Hobbies include travelling, dressing in period costume and scuba diving. Addicted to volcanoes and trying new things.” And from reading The Lost Conspiracy, I have to surmise that all of this is true. The Lost Conspiracy certainly is downright odd, but it is also downright original, downright adventurous, and downright wonderful. Not to mention it is full of volcanoes and trying new things for both those ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would say this is the easiest FH novel to get into that I’ve encountered yet. It’s a beautiful story of compassion and dealing with xenophobia and greed. It tackles important questions of revenge and forgiveness. The world building is impeccable and imaginative as always . FH makes creating rich interesting worlds look very easy and it’s really really not. 👸
And for a children's book - what a smart conversation about racism. There's no "well you looked different and I was afraid and now I've ta
Jul 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
December 2020: Still great. More pointed than I remember (reading in light of the Hardinge books which follow it) and yet it’s successful anyway, since primarily it tells the story of Hathin. I am the dirt that will bury you - it leaps off the page, and it’s so powerful. So is that ending. So is that exploration of cultural differences and the casual things people say and what it takes to bridge a divide... All of this, wrapped up in a story of myth and mountains and murder -

This might not be as
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Foolishly, when I was around 17 years old, I mused out loud to my friend, “I don’t know why it’s so difficult to be a successful artist. All you have to do is create something entirely new.”

Entirely new. I said this like it was as simple as tying a shoe or picking a flower. Of course, it’s not that simple; it’s immensely difficult to be original. Just ask Nicholas Sparks and every Tom Cruise movie ever. Hey, even ask Shakespeare!

But in The Lost Conspiracy, Hardinge fulfills my age 17 requiremen
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2016
3 Stars

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge was simply an uneven read for me. This comes across as a light version of an adult oriented fairytale. The writing is one the best part of this story as Hardinge brought this place to life. Hathin, the young female main protagonist is the star of this book and the only reason that I finished it. I loved this passionate, strong, fearless, and bossy young woman. She will be unforgettable.

I had problems with this book as after you reach the midway po
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who are willing to throw out page rules
Recommended to Holly by: Pat and Kim
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Have I said I love my job? Besides working for and amongst the love and hobby of my life right now – books - I’m surrounded by coworkers that are also avid book readers. What this also means is that I have the privilege of hearing about excellent books that I never would’ve otherwise. So when the children’s librarian claims a book to be the best she’s read all year (and she’s read a lot of good ones), you better listen. Because The Lost Conspiracy is just one of those under-the-radar books that ...more
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chachic by: Megan Whalen Turner
Originally posted here.

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge comes highly recommended by Megan Whalen Turner and you can see her talk about the book here.

At 576 pages, this is a pretty hefty volume so I couldn't lug it around with me. I decided to start reading it last weekend because it was a long weekend. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to finish it. I spent my days at work, constantly thinking of the time when I could go back home and continue reading this story set in a lush, tropical island
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I found it somewhat difficult to rate this book, despite the fact that I ended up giving it 5 stars. I almost gave up on it several times - early on - but by the end, I was a bit in awe. The author has used wonderfully poetic language to create an incredibly strange, complex, very odd world. Yet, like one of the Lost whose senses roam the world divorced from their bodies, you are kept at just a bit of a remove from all that happens - at least partially because much of the world's complexity and ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, teen-fiction
While the plot is incredibly slow and the book could have been better had it been at least 100 pages shorter, the writing here is beautiful and the world-building is flawless. The civilizations and their customs ring true, and are more reminiscent of ancient South American cultures than the standard pre-industrial European-type villages so popular in fantasy works. I will say that all the talk of installing gems in teeth made me wince, though! The heroine showed plenty of grit in her actions, bu ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m a little at a loss to review this. There’s so much to love, mythos and character and world and prose and political analysis and anticolonial narrative drive. Incredible villains. And, of course, the volcanoes.

But its treatment of Arilou is a thing I think I can’t get past. At first I thought maybe Hardinge had set out to write a story about intellectual disability and just wasn’t doing it very well, in some places doing it very badly, which was problem enough, but having finished the novel
Jessy (OCD Anonymous)
Frances Hardinge:

Never mind that I’ve only officially read two Frances Hardinge books... I LOVE THE WOMAN!!

Gullstruck Island or The Lost Conspiracy as it’s called in some countries is a story of two sisters, as different from each other as day and night, who have to transverse their entire world to right a wrong done to them after their entire village was killed –murdered really- unjustly under false accusations. At least that’s the story in a sentence or two. In reality, Frances Hardinge cre
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Although this book was not my favorite by Hardinge, I am still amazed by her imagination in creating these lush and magical worlds. 3 stars for the story and 5 stars for the world-building.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another gem; beautiful prose and inventive names. A tale of bravery and loyalty.
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children, fantasy
This is one of those books that people will either love with a passion or--not hate--but simply not read because it's very long and very wrong for them. The language is amazing--it's hard to find the language to describe it. But if you can't throw yourself into the foaming stream of metaphors and let it sweep you along, you might end up getting stuck in an eddy of words (see? I tried!). The world that's created with these words is just as complex and densely packed and you'd better keep up becau ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hallie by: grabbed it as soon as I saw it in the shop
Shelves: fantasy
Wow. This was amazing. Will write it up as soon as I can manage a bit of coherence, and can pick and choose between all the many flagged quotes I want to share...

Write-up here.
the first time i read this book was in 2013. i gave it four stars and a one-word “review”: LOVE

it was my first ever hardinge novel and made me eager to read the rest. but that didn’t happen until a few weeks ago when i discovered libby and devoured all of hardinge’s novels one by one. they’re beautiful and strange and wonderful and i am blown away by hardinge’s imagination and creativity.

when i’d read all of them, i decided to re-read the first book i’d ever read by her, to see how it held up no
It's been a while since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed Gullstruck Island . I used to think that every writer has weaknesses, but either Hardinge is an exception, or she masks her weaknesses extremely well.

Everything about this book is just right. The characters are wonderful and diverse (Jimboly is a villain I just loved to hate), the world is creative and fleshed out, the plot and pacing are great, the dialogue is wonderful, the descriptive language beautiful... I've now read all of Ha
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Lost are a rare group capable of sending their spirit senses anywhere they please. When Arilou was young, she exhibited all the signs of being Lost, and so her younger sister Hathin has spent her life devoted to caring for her body while her mind drifts elsewhere. But is Arilou really Lost, or merely a disabled girl that her entire village has built an industry around?

That's just the tip of the iceberg of the plot of this book. I am legit not smart or well educated enough to talk up all the
Brandy Painter
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Last week was the week for reading books I hadn't read yet by my favorite authors. Frances Hardinge is definitely one of my favorites. While I don't always love each individual book, I always appreciate them for the works of art they are. The Lost Conspiracy (Gullstruck Island-UK) is one of those books that swept me away on a tide of beautiful imagery and left me clinging to each page ready to know what happened next.

The Lost Conspiracy i
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book didn't quite get there for me. I really wanted it to. But it didn't.

It is still an excellent book. I suspect that part of the issue is that it suffers in my eyes in comparison to A Face Like Glass (as most things do).

The story is beautifully told. I'm going to start there. Frances Hardinge has a wonderful way of creating a world, one that strikes the right note between wonderfully strange while still being relatable in its familiarity. The world this book is set in is wonderfully imagi
W.R. Gingell
Oct 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I honestly don’t read a huge amount of middle grade fiction. Even as a kid I was more inclined to read teen and adult fiction–or classics–than I was to read middle grade. There were exceptions, but by and large I didn’t read a huge amount of it (Nicholas Fisk, Diana Wynne Jones, and Joan Aiken being three HUGE exceptions, because they’re amazing).

Frances Hardinge is a new, huge exception. THE LOST CONSPIRACY (also known as GULLSTRUCK ISLAND, depending upon which country you live in) was the firs
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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.

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