Rummanah Aasi
 I first featured The Lie Tree on one of my Waiting on Wednesday posts. I have read such great reviews of this book and I have been really looking forward to it. Thanks to Amulet and Netgalley, I was able to read an advanced copy of the book. The Lie Tree is now available in your libraries and bookstores.

Description: Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.
  In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder—or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

Review: The Lie Tree is a rich, complex, and multi-layered historical mystery with a dash of magical realism and horror. Faith Sunderly is a girl ahead of her time and a victim of her society's mores, particularly those of gender expectations. In a time when a young woman is discouraged to think for herself, seek knowledge, and only learn skills which help them ensnare a wealthy bachelor, Faith is a dangerous and wicked girl. Despite her plain physical appearance and demure nature, she has a sharp and inquisitive mind. She idolizes her father and shares his keen interest in the scientific research of fossils and evolution. She also has an irresistible impulse for sneaking, spying, and skulking around. While as readers of a modern era we find nothing evil about Faith's healthy curiosity about the world around her, Faith however, keeps all of these traits and desires hidden and believes it is a source of personal shame. Ironically, she yearns for people, particularly her father, to discover her hidden truth and become an active participant in her father's archaeological dig. Hardinge does a wonderful job in demonstrating Faith's inner turmoil of being the 'obedient' daughter, a budding scientist along with her envy of her younger brother. The story drips from blatant sexism, but moves on to something much sinister when Faith's family moves to an insular island community of Vane where her father is invited to an archaeological dig.
  It doesn't take long for Faith to suspect there are darker reasons the family left London in such a hurry. Her family is shunned by the Vane's community for unknown reasons and her mother seems to have ulterior motives. As Faith starts to meddle in her parent's affairs and begins to put things together, her father is found dead. Many believe that her father committed suicide, but she is determined to prove her father's death was a murder. The mystery of her father's death not only hints at professional envy and greed, but also potentially being a dissident in the theological debate of creation.
  The story moves at a leisurely pace as Faith slowly uncovers a web of secrets her father has been keeping. Once the lie tree, a small tree that thrives on lies and bears a fruit that tells the truth, is introduced the pacing becomes faster and the story then evolves into Faith's growing obsession to finding out the truth and her reckless behavior. I found the concept behind the lie tree to be fascinating and wanted to learn more about how the tree utilizes lies to create a fruit of truth. Faith believes she can use the tree to find her father's killer and begins feeding it lies.
 The Lie Tree is not a book for those seeking a fast paced plot, but rather those who are patient to see how it slowly grows. The book is dense, but full of philosophical questions and discussions of Darwinian evolution. Hardinge's sharp observations of the book's time period are definitely a high light.  While reading the book I found myself wondering if we all have a metaphorical lie tree and our pursuit to seeking truth will ever end. I would definitely recommend this book to readers who like depth to their stories and it would also be a good book club discussion pick too.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images and violence in the book. Due to the mature themes and writing style, I think this book would best be suitable for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Clay by David Almond, The Brides of  Rollick Island by Margo Langan
6 Responses
  1. The cover is so stunning for this one, I have been curious and now after reading your review, I think I need to read it. Sounds like it is unique and I like the concept of the lie tree.

  2. Kindlemom Says:

    This does sound like it would be good for a book club. I'm going to keep this in mind for later.

  3. I'd heard good things about Hardinge's writing and so requested this one because I thought the premise sounded interesting. I'm more excited about reading it now because of the ideas that it raises.

  4. Candace Says:

    I have this one but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I don't know for sure, but the slow plot might be hard for me right now. I think I'll have to pick it up and see if it clicks right away. It might be one I'll have to save for now. I am glad to see a good review for it though because I've been wondering.

  5. So here's my question. You say if you liked Brides of Rollrock Island, you'll like this book. What if I hated Bride of Rollrock, do you think I have a chance of liking this one? I did like Hardinge's Cuckoo Song. How does it compare?

  6. @Anne: The books share the same themes so that's why I included them in the readalikes. Personally, I couldn't get through Bride of Rollock but Lie Tree held my interest even though the plot was slow because there was so much to digest.

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