When I heard that The Lie Tree won the prestigious Costa Book of the Year for 2015, only the second children's book to win the award, I was curious. In reading praise for this book about a 14-year girl struggling against the sexism of the Victorian scientific community and the strict expectations placed on her by her family, I was intrigued. When I learned that the protagonist Faith tries to uncover the mystery of her father's death by whispering lies to a tree whose fruit would grant truth, at a cost, I was hooked.
What I love best about Frances Hardinge's book is the beautifully evocative language. Things are never what they appear to be on the surface, even the characters. Faith appears to be a dutiful daughter but hides a dark secret, an interest and aptitude in science and an unquenchable curiosity that often leads her astray. Hardinge also hides double meaning in her language. Her metaphors are sharp and pull you into this world of lies, intrigue, and hidden truths. A definite must read if you enjoy dark middle grade fantasy.