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Fly by Night Paperback
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- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1509842330
- ISBN-13 : 978-1509842339
- Item Weight : 10.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 1.14 x 7.76 inches
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The writing of just beautiful on a sentence level. The way Hardinge plays with imagagery is just wonderful. I kept sending bits of it to a friend of mine who now demand to borrow the book.
The story is quite strange in the same way real world stories are, this feels more like history than a traditional narrative, which is super ambitious for a middle grade book, bud she pulls it off!
Go read it, everyone!
Frances Hardinge can WRITE, y'all. I'm addicted to her prose, and while the more well versed than I might be able to pick out influences in her writing, she feels completely original to me. She's like a reincarnation of Dianna Wynne Jones though she's really just in a class by herself. I didn't fall head over heels for this story as much as I loved A Face Like Glass but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and underlined plenty of very cleverly turned phrases.
The setting is something similar to old world England, but quite reinvented. Society is at some unrest with kings and queens, princes and princesses in hiding while various guilds and dukes duke (ha) it out and fight for control of various cities. One guild, the Stationers are in charge of teaching the appointed children and approving the written works. Banned books are burned and even small advertising pamphlets or event posters must be signed off by a Stationer before they can be posted and read. Of course there are political machinations in place which involve an illegal printing press, mysteries, and a murder, all of which our young 12 year old protagonist finds herself embroiled in and solving.
I enjoyed the richly developed backdrop, the people and the invented histories all came alive quite nicely. I particularly enjoyed the interesting world of Chough though we only get a glimpse of it in the beginning, and the floating coffee houses and all the other boats and merchants on the riverway in Mandelion. I can't even do it justice, you guys. Hardinge is amazing at weaving fairly complex plotlines in and out and together, and managing to completely surprise the reader. Go on, read it. In fact read this and her others first, and save A Face Like Glass for last because it is her best (at least I'm guessing so... I'm about to find out.)
A heroine is required to brave this inane unreality. Mosca seems not quite up to the task...just a child and locked in a mill as the story opens. So of course she turns her world upside down, with the help of her goose companion. She manages to elude and exasperate some unforgettably scruffy and dangerously devious characters. She is very often much smarter than the reader. Enchanting.
This is a book for grown up and growing up children who love words. There is page after page of words playing games, words woven into puzzles, words conjuring images of mayhem and delightful magic. Like the river that Mosca uses to escape her captors, the words wind and wander into curlicue patterns never seen or imagined before. There are moments when sentences can stop your breath, illuminate your brain, curl your toes.
The story is challenging and touching and witty....but it is demanding. It demands your imagination and your dictionary occasionally. It is hilarious and horrifying. It is the kind of book you give an unsuspecting child of any age who wants to read something scary, exasperating, and vivid. It is a multi faceted convex mirror of real life today.....without the goose.
Top reviews from other countries
As others have said on this site, Hardinge is a fine writer with a poetical style - there is a richness of imagery (particularly personification) which elevates her novels above the run of common-or-garden fantasy writers, though this in itself is of course a matter of personal taste. She allies this interesting style with an original imagination - she has created a convincing, if fantastical, world, derived like all fantasy from previously existing ideas but taking these to new places. The novel is well-paced, with a compelling plot, and though she herself describes it, slightly dismissively, as a 'yarn', it is better than many yarns I've read recently in the same genre. She tackles 'big ideas' for one thing - freedom of thought, freedom of speech, religious toleration. And her characters are vivid and authentic - Mosca is spikily realistic, her naivete getting her into and out of scrapes and her warmth and humanity, like Lyra in Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, being her saving grace. What most impressed me about the novel was the way Hardinge generally kept the reader seeing the tale from Mosca's viewpoint so we mostly saw events and characters through her innocent eyes, though we had a few additional glimpses of the duchess etc which Mosca didn't have. Hardinge managed to balance our feelings towards Eponymous, for example, so that we sort of liked him while also distrusting him, feeling he was a silver-tongued mountebank-type while also hoping he'd turn out to be a good guy. I thought this was very skillful. The novel is full of tension, a background feeling of danger, but also some nice humorous elements here and there, and some satisfying plot twists. Saracen is a stroke of genius, and the novel is full of well-realised background information and minor characters, with some excellent set-pieces.
Overall, if you like unusual fantasy books with young protagonists but enough adult characters and substantial themes to interest a grown-up reader, then this might well be for you. Lively, well-paced, skillfully and beautifully written, an interesting narrative with believable and entertaining characters.
Our glimpse into the life, and world, of Mosca, has barely begun. Read it and become acquainted with the twice prize-winning Hardinge's engaging fiction . . .
I can't wait to read Twilight Robbery, the second installment. I'm sure it will be as good or even better. Fly By Night is my first Frances Hardinge book that I have read and impressed I am. She's a very good author with an amazing imagination.