The Lie Tree is set in the age of discovery of the world of sciences and evolution – the early 19th century. Frances Hardinge portrays a world of mystery and lies through the eyes of Faith Sunderly, a teenage daughter to the enigmatic Reverend Erasmus.
In a period of male superiority women are thought of being stupid in the minds of men. Faith learns that she must contain her curiosity for the world of natural sciences. Faith’s father is a leading figurehead in this field. The Reverend moves his family to a secluded island in the channel. It is supposedly for a better look at the archaeological dig. Yet Faith suspects a deeper meaning to the movement. Her suspicions increase when she notices her father takes midnight walks and act very hostile. Faith comes across a newspaper from the mainland and realises the true meaning of her father’s escape from the mainland.
The pressure is building on the Sunderly family when suddenly one night Reverend Erasmus doesn’t come home from his walk. Raising an alert the whole household search for him. They find one thing… His dead body. All fingers point at suicide – a disgraceful death – yet Faith isn’t so sure. Following a incredible discovery Faith finds her father’s journals. Reading them she realises there is something dark and sinister that is the cause of all their problems.
This book is as intriguing as a murder mystery, and has the danger as a revenge story. It also gives deep insight into sexism in the Victorian era and good and evil. Faith is a refreshing but not conventionally attractive heroine, who has a pretty tough time.
At the start of the book it starts slowly picking up momentum leading to climax after climax. I was completely absorbed by it. Although some of the vocabulary is advanced it is easy to grasp the concepts. It is not a difficult read and you can completely understand it. With many plot twists I can honestly say that it was the best book I have read in the whole of 2015.
I would recommend this book from anyone 12+. It is a gripping, thought provoking book that almost everyone should read.
By Robert Derry