,
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fly by Night” as Want to Read:
Fly by Night
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fly by Night

(Fly by Night #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  6,851 ratings  ·  860 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
...more
Hardcover, 486 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fly by Night, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 ..how sho…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 ..how 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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,851 ratings  ·  860 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Fly by Night
Tatiana
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful!

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

I am buying every book Frances Hardinge has written so far.
Adam Boisvert
Sep 14, 2007 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
...more
Lucy
Fly By Night opens with a short history of The Fractured Realm, and things look grim indeed. A history peppered with monarchs and parliament, guild wars and religious inquisitions, and a holy terror of the dangers of the written word are the backdrop for this story.

Mosca Mye, orphaned, black-eyed and stubborn and addicted to the written word, burns down her uncle’s mill (accidentally,) releases a con man from the stocks (on purpose,) and flees town with only her homicidal and loyal goose Sarace
...more
Bradley
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya, 2019-shelf
I've read a number of book-centric books over the years and quite a few of them are YA. Some hit you over the head with the book and others are subtle enough to flow right over you and sneak up and bite you in the behind.

This one is the latter kind.

Sure, the power of words is all over the place, but where I like it most is in Hardinge's worldbuilding. The history of this place is not only fascinating and rough, but clever and multilayered. I get the impression we're in an early English period ri
...more
TheBookSmugglers
Jul 09, 2012 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
...more
Lightreads
Jun 17, 2013 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
...more
Trish
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my third book by this author and the first she ever published. Sadly, it shows.

The story is that of a world where books have become forbidden. Into this world a girl is born with the unusual name of Mosca. The girl is smart and inquisitive and loves learning about words. As is only natural for a story like this, personal disaster strikes and she is forced to flee her home together with her gander (the best character here if you ask me). She meets a lot of people, from vagabonds to thieve
...more
Arie
Jun 02, 2015 rated it liked it
"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
...more
Sîvan Sardar
Aug 13, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
So BORING UGH
wittierninja
Dec 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Daniel
Jul 17, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
TL;DR: 4 stars, perhaps trying a bit too hard with the prose in the beginning, but a fun plot underneath and likable characters.

For my second outing with Hardinge, (the first having been Deeplight), I went with her first published novel, which was a distinct contrast with her ninth. While the themes are not so far removed, the prose itself was quite different, and a bit of a difficulty for me early on.

Before picking up Deeplight, part of the appeal really, was Hardinge's reputation as a writer.
...more
Ashley
Jun 30, 2007 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
Toria (Please call me Leo)
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was just the middle grade adventure I needed this very moment. It was so entertaining and absolutely flew through this. Wasn't sure of it in the beginning but then I was hooked. I need to try to find the next book somewhere ...more
Peter Tillman
I don't read much YA, but my GR friend and master reviewer Carol. convinced me to read this one. You should go read her review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Just as she says, "Fly By Night is a playful, sophisticated story, as suited to the older reader as the young adult. The story of a twelve-year-old misfit girl–she can read–weaves an antagonistic buddy-trip, a spy caper, guild wars, city revolutions, freedom of the press and a journey of self-discovery into a satisfying book that
...more
Jennifer
DNF 25% - Alas, Hardinge's piquant and unpredictable writing couldn't keep me interested in this tale of political intrigue, skullduggery, and murderous ganders. I usually find her writing weirdly and sometimes unpleasantly immersive, but I had no problem putting this one down for long stretches of time. (Two weeks later: uh...who was Partridge? What's the deal with the Locksmiths vs. Stationers vs. Birdcatchers again?)

It didn't help that the characters are either unpleasant, secretive to the po
...more
Anna
May 15, 2009 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
Sharon
CW: animal harm, (mentioned) animal death, Romani slurs (You know the one - "g")

In fourth grade, I had to write a book report. This is not terribly unusual; most children have to write a few at that age.
So, I went to the library. Somewhere between the end of second grade and the start of third, I had realized that one might access stories more successfully if they really put their mind to reading. Slowly, I realized that the act of reading was not quite the chore I thought it was previously an
...more
Gabriel
Sep 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book was a nice surprise. A very solid and satisfying adventure that was sincerely amusing, exciting and interesting. The main character Mosca is awesome and won me over almost immediately. How could she not? Champing on a pipe with a take no shit attitude under one arm and a murderous goose under the other.
Mika
Sep 23, 2008 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
...more
Isabella
I couldn't scroll past this book without singing Fly by Night by Rush, so I thought I might as well read it

Rating: 4 stars

I really enjoyed this book! I read the description, and thought I could potentially have a good time reading it, and though I did doubt this in the middle, I was, overall, right. There was a chance that it could fall flat as it was listed as YA, but I didn't think it felt too YA-y at all. Well, even Google can't decide what age group this book fits into: "Fly by Night is a ch
...more
Karen Healey
Jul 01, 2009 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.)


Th
...more
Kaethe
Set in an imagined place similar to England at the start of the 18th century. All the intrigue of Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, but with a manageable number of words. And a twelve-year-old heroine, and a vicious goose.

I finished up loving FLY BY NIGHT even more. It's always delightful to me to watch a character think, and Mosca puzzles out all the intrigues very well. And, she has moments of great valor. And I love all the secondary developments. And I love Mosca's final decisions so much.

Read it
...more
Hallie
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
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
Sesana
Mar 30, 2011 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
Lara
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I really enjoyed Hardinge's most recent book, The Lost Conspiracy, and between that and all the five star reviews for Fly By Night on here, I naturally assumed I'd like this one just as much. But I was wrong. I never really connected with the main character, and then the story itself...just never really interested me (the main point also seemed REALLY heavy handed). And it's very difficult to enjoy a book when you don't care about anybody or anything in it. Another thing: part of what I loved ab ...more
Nick Fagerlund
Oct 27, 2012 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
...more
Lata
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The world (which kept reminding me of post-Cromwell England) was wonderfully detailed, with its multiple churches, forbidden learning, fantastically named characters, and that goose!
Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent are great together. She's sharp-tongued and intelligent, and Clent's slippery self and word waterfalls are often hilarious.
Though Hardinge's text was sometimes a little dense, which slowed down the action every now and again, I loved all the colour of the setting and t
...more
Linna
Where do I even start?

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

From the first few pages I was in love, and it's hard not to because here is a book that loves words just as much as you
...more
Jeanette
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
...more
The Captain
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Ahoy there me mateys!  I was in a mood where I wasn't sure what I wanted to read.  Then I read Matey Nicky's review of this book where she said:
I have to admit that, primed by Untitled Goose Game, I was on Saracen’s side in all of this. In any given scene, at any given stopping point, my main concern was where is Saracen???  (People who watched me live-tweeting my binge of this book can attest to that. Several tweets demanding to know where the goose was.)  Part of the reason I was on Saracen’s
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Enchanted Glass
  • Quint and Dirk's Hero Quest (The Last Kids on Earth, #7.5)
  • The Star of Kazan
  • Return to Roar
  • Blood to Poison
  • Embassy of the Dead
  • The Girl With No Soul
  • The Old Kingdom Three-Book Box Set: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen
  • Midnight Is a Place
  • Welcome to St. Hell: My Trans Teen Misadventure
  • A Thousand Steps into Night
  • Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times
  • I Close My Eyes (Closed, #1)
  • Stone Blind: Medusa's Story
  • The Shrunken Head (The Curiosity House, #1)
  • Shiverton Hall
  • Constable & Toop
  • The Spy Paramount
See similar books…
See top shelves…
2,307 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.

Other books in the series

Fly by Night (2 books)
  • Fly Trap

Related Articles

When a young adult novel makes a big impact with readers, it's only a matter of time before it gets a screen adaptation. And with the advent of...
120 likes · 31 comments
“True stories seldom have endings.
I don't want a happy ending, I want more story.”
147 likes
“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.” 114 likes
More quotes…