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The Lie tree
Cover of The Lie tree
The Lie tree
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Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as the tree bears more and more fruit, she discovers that her lies were closer to the truth than she could ever have imagined.
Faith's father has been found dead under mysterious circumstances, and as she is searching through his belongings for clues she discovers a strange tree. The tree only grows healthy and bears fruit if you whisper a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, will deliver a hidden truth to the person who consumes it. The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father's murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as the tree bears more and more fruit, she discovers that her lies were closer to the truth than she could ever have imagined.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 15, 2016
    In Hardinge’s (Cuckoo Song) superb tale of overarching ambition and crypto-botany, which recently won the Costa Book Award in the U.K., the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, an eminent if unpleasant Victorian, has suddenly moved his family to a remote island, ostensibly to participate in a paleontological dig, but actually to escape scandal. Noticing that he is acting strangely, his 14-year-old daughter, Faith, a budding scientist whose intellectual curiosities are dismissed and discouraged, offers her aid and soon finds herself party to a terrifying discovery, a mysterious tree that apparently feeds on lies, rewarding the liar with astonishing visions. This so-called “Mendacity Tree” gives the tale an oddly allegorical feel, like something out of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. When Sunderly is found dead, an apparent suicide, it is up to Faith to clear his name, expose the murderer, and perhaps endanger her very soul. 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. The Reverend’s murder is a compelling mystery, grounded not just in professional envy and greed, but in the theological high-stakes game of Darwinian evolution and its many discontents. It’s a ripping good yarn, one that should hold particular appeal for readers who are attracted to philosophically dense works like those of David Almond and Margo Lanagan. Ages 13–up. Agent: Nancy Miles, Miles Stott Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine At the story's start, narrator Charlotte Wright expresses 14-year-old Faith Sunderly's emotional distress. She is cowed and confused as her family leaves Kent because of a scandal kept secret from her. Wright strengthens the sense of Faith's lonely turmoil through portrayals of her stern father and self-involved mother. Through poignant depictions, Wright captures how Faith's intelligence and scientific gifts are squelched by the defined gender roles of nineteenth-century society. Eventually, Faith's need to understand what is going on drives her to explore her father's papers and to discover a mysterious truth-telling tree. Through shifts in tone, Wright communicates Faith's increased confidence as well as her horror at the tree's power. As narrator, Wright dazzles with her character portrayals and propels listeners through this gripping story. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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The Lie tree
The Lie tree
Frances Hardinge
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