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The Lie Tree Hardcover – April 19, 2016

4.4 out of 5 stars 533 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—In a time when a young woman's exterior life can be stifling and dull, Faith Sunderly's interior life is cavernous. She has a sharp mind; a keen interest in the scientific research that has made her father, the formidable Reverend Sunderly, famous; and an irresistible impulse for sneaking, spying, and skulking around. Faith's curiosity about the world around her, which she must keep hidden, is a source of personal shame and the one thing about herself she longs for people, especially her father, to notice. When the Reverend is invited to take part in an archaeological dig on the insular island community of Vane, the whole family packs up and moves with him. It doesn't take long for Faith to suspect there are darker reasons the family left London in such a hurry, and just as she's starting to put things together, her father is found dead. Setting out to prove her father's death was a murder, Faith uncovers a web of secrets the Reverend has been keeping, all centered on one of his specimens—a small tree that thrives on lies and bears a fruit that tells the truth. Faith believes she can use the tree to find her father's killer and begins feeding it lies. As the tree grows, so do Faith's lies and her fevered obsession with finding out the truth. Hardinge, who can turn a phrase like no other, melds a haunting historical mystery with a sharp observation on the dangers of suppressing the thirst for knowledge, and leaves readers to wonder where science ends and fantasy begins. VERDICT Smart, feminist, and shadowy, Hardinge's talents are on full display here.—Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI

Review

“Over the last decade or so, Frances Hardinge has joined the ranks of those writers of young-adult fiction, like Philip Pullman, whose approach to fantasy proves so compelling that they quickly develop an adult following, and The Lie Tree is a good demonstration of why this is so… It’s a rather stunning page-turner of a performance, and an excellent introduction to Hardinge’s increasingly important body of work.”
(Locus)

"In 19th-century Britain, the study of natural history was reserved for gentlemen. Unlucky enough to be born female, science-minded Faith, the heroine of this dark and captivating period novel, can't hope to follow in her naturalist father's footsteps. Yet when those footsteps lead to his suspicious death, Faith turns her "weakness" into an advantage. Underestimated by everyone, from her father's colleagues to the servants to her own mother, she embarks on an investigation that propels her into the scandal that ruined her father's reputation and entices her to adopt his morally questionable research methods.

"The Lie Tree" shares the rich, cerebral atmosphere and feminist bent of Andrea Barrett's history-of-science-inspired fiction for adults, weaving it all together with gossamer fairy-tale thread. The book's title refers to a plant — Faith's father's secret discovery — that withers in the light and feeds off of lies. Faith believes that reason and logic must hold the explanation to the Lie Tree's puzzling attributes, since, for her, "'magic' was not an answer; it was an excuse to avoid looking for one." Nonetheless, she can't deny that when she whispers untruths into its leaves, things happen: Both the plant and Faith's covert power start to grow.

Hardinge's gorgeous descriptive language is charged with menace and meaning. Lying in bed one night, Faith imagines "her lie spreading silently like dark green smoke, filling the air around the house like a haze, spilling from the mouths of those who whispered and wondered and feared … soaking like mist into waiting leaves, seeping like sap down gnarled slender stems, and forcing itself out into a small, white spearhead of a bud." "The Lie Tree" is a murder mystery that dazzles at every level, shimmering all the more brightly the deeper down into it you go."

(Christine Heppermann Chicago Tribune)

**STARRED REVIEW**
"Mystery, magic, religion, and feminism swirl together in Hardinge's latest heady concoction... Hardinge creates a fierce, unlikable heroine navigating a rapidly changing world and does it all with consummate skill and pitch-perfect prose, drawing readers into Faith's world and onto her side and ultimately saying quite a lot about the world. Thematically rich, stylistically impressive, absolutely unforgettable."
(Kirkus)

**STARRED REVIEW**
"Hardinge, who can turn a phrase like no other, melds a haunting historical mystery with a sharp observation on the dangers of suppressing the thirst for knowledge, and leaves readers to wonder where science ends and fantasy begins... Smart, feminist, and shadowy, Hardinge’s talents are on full display here."
(School Library Journal)

**STARRED REVIEW**
"Hardinge’s characteristically rich writing is on full display—alternately excoriating, haunting, and darkly funny—and the novel also features complex, many-sided characters and a clear-eyed examination of the deep sexism of the period, which trapped even the most intelligent women in roles as restrictive as their corsets."
(Publisher's Weekly)

**STARRED REVIEW**
"There is an effortless beauty to Hardinge’s writing, which ranges from frank to profound. Though layered, the plot refuses to sag, driven as it is by mystery, taut atmosphere, complex characters, and Faith’s insatiable curiosity... It is a book in which no details are wasted and each chapter brings a new surprise. Readers of historical fiction, mystery, and fantasy will all be captivated by this wonderfully crafted novel and the many secrets hidden within its pages."
(Booklist)

**STARRED REVIEW**
“The elements of the mystery are masterfully keyed to the concerns of the Victorian time period, and its unfolding is handled with a dexterity that never loses sight of the gender problem; the book also directs its light onto matters of faith and doubt, and the issue of lies and truth in the pursuit of science. The excitement and danger, coupled with Faith’s intrepid though morally flawed pursuit of justice, call to mind Hardinge’s Fly by Night (BCCB 9/06); give this to readers unafraid to think disquieting thoughts as they race through a breathtaking, action-packed adventure.”
(BCCB)

**STARRED REVIEW**
"Everything in this audacious novel is on the cusp or in limbo, setting up delicious tensions and thematic riches. The time is nineteenth-century England just after Darwin’s theory of evolution has thrown the scientific world into turmoil; the setting is the fictional island of Vane, between land and sea; the main  character is a fourteen-year-old girl caught between society’s expectations and her fierce desire to be a scientist... Hardinge maintains masterful control of the whole complex construct: everything from the sentence level on up to the larger philosophical and political questions. A stunner."
(The Horn Book)

“Some of the most beloved science-fiction and fantasy writers, from Madeleine L'Engle to Philip Pullman, began as young-adult authors whose fiction proved so compelling that adult readers embraced it as well, ignoring the line that supposedly separates these audiences. One of the latest such writers is Frances Hardinge.”
(Chicago Tribune)

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
533 customer ratings
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Top international reviews

jogo
4.0 out of 5 stars It didn't take too many chapters for me to get sucked into this narrative and fall in love with Faith
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 1, 2016
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Miss K. Southern
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like when I read 'Cuckoo Song'
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 26, 2018
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J. Ang
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About Lies
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2017
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sashaknits
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Victorian fantasy/mystery with a feminist twist
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 7, 2020
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boogalouie
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange combination of stories in one
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2019
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Chocolate Goddess
5.0 out of 5 stars and a pervasive atmosphere of how much it can suck to be female
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 20, 2017
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Rae Else
4.0 out of 5 stars A descriptive mysterious read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 24, 2017
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marcia denny
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, embroiling read, and well worth the money, my only qualm being an ending that seems a little clumsy and rushed, and r
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 17, 2017
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Derek Carney
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and original read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 21, 2016
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Book Lover
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this; it reminds me of some of the ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2016
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JCH
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and strange
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 10, 2018
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Babybim
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable first sample of Hardinge
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 26, 2019
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Caitlin Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian mystery with a strong female lead
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 12, 2016
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Susan Glazier
4.0 out of 5 stars A few mixed feelings, but I liked this book better and better as it went along
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 6, 2016
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Penelope Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 5, 2019
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