Frances Hardinge: The Lie Tree


The leaves were cold and slightly clammy. There was no mistaking them. She had seen their likeness painstakingly sketched in her father’s journal. This was his greatest secret, his treasure and his undoing. The Tree of Lies. Now it was hers, and the journey he had never finished stretched out before her.

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from lies. Searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. A tree that feeds off whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets.

But as Faith’s untruths spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .


I have heard nothing but rave reviews for this novel since I saw it pop up on social media a few months ago – and, having won the Costa Book of the Year award in 2015, there had to be something brilliant about this novel. Though this wasn’t the best book I had ever read, it had a lot of elements going for it such as a clear, concise yet descriptive style of writing that clearly explained the narrative with little confusion. Hardinge’s writing is just beautiful and doesn’t faff around, all her words have something to say and have some meaning within the overall narrative and she knows how to clearly keep the plot moving and bring characters and setting to life. An element I found refreshing was Hardinge’s use of similes and metaphors which were original and unique with no cringy and cheesy cliches. They are memorable and stand out from the writing because of their difference and helped add a certain quality to the style of writing. Hardinge manages to intertwine all the strands of the narrative to fit together like a jigsaw with no question on my part on whether such an event would occur – the varying plot points holding realistic qualities that did not border on the absurd as can sometimes be found when the writer fall back on the technique of deus ex machina.

The Lie Tree possesses many themes that pop up throughout the narrative, but the one that I found most prominent was the portrayal of women within a society where they must be the perfect housewife – lacking in intelligence and only good for handling the estate and bearing children. The main character, Faith, goes against these norms and it is clear from the offset that she is intelligent, stubborn, and imaginative. Though she has been blessed with the opportunity to help her father prior to current events however, she is still deemed as a girl who will become this “perfect” woman and the novel can also be seen to be a journey for Faith – a journey to show the world that woman can be smart and study the sciences, that they are equal to men in intelligence. I felt that this was a good theme for Hardinge to be focusing on within a young adult novel, as it will help many young girls in our current generation realise that they have the potential to fulfill those roles currently dominated by men.

I really loved the overall concept of the narrative with a tree that feeds off the lies of humans. It was a refreshing and original concept on behalf of Hardinge and I will be embarking upon some of her other works when I have the time.


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