A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge, is a Victorian fantasy/mystery featuring a resourceful female teen sleuth. The novel was selected as the 2015 Costa Book of the Year; these awards are given to the most outstanding books by authors based in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It has scenes of violence, but they're generally understated. A character's father is found dead. A doctor is thrown into a pit. A boy is seriously injured by a rabbit trap. Villains are shot and jump to their deaths. There's no strong language or substance use, and the only sexual content is that some adult characters are suspected of having affairs.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
When her family abruptly moves from Kent to the isolated isle of Vane, Faith Sunderly doesn't understand the urgency of the situation. Her clergyman father, who's also a respected natural scientist, is embroiled in a scandal involving falsified fossils. When her father is found dead, Faith suspects murder, while nearly everyone else believes he took his own life. Determined to learn the truth and exact revenge on the guilty parties, Faith searches through her father's belongings and learns about a mysterious plant known as the Lie Tree. The tree feeds on lies and grows bitter fruits that grant revelatory visions to those who dare to eat them. Intent on her mission, Faith can't foresee the terrible consequences of nurturing the plant.
Is it any good?
A rich mix of Victorian mystery and timeless fantasy, this award-winning novel has plenty of plot twists and turns, as well as keen insight into the psychology of its cast of characters. In THE LIE TREE, Faith Sunderly demands justice for her murdered father, and author Frances Hardinge sets up a puzzling set of circumstances worthy of her sleuthing skills. The addition of a magical plant that feeds on lies and dispenses hidden truths adds a creepy tinge of the supernatural, not to mention a crucial serving of unpredictability. Each of the characters is seen in a different light by the end of the book.
Exciting, intense, and slyly funny, The Lie Tree will appeal to a wide and diverse audience of readers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the reasons why people lie. Are some lies worse then others? How do you know the difference?
Faith's father can't be buried near the church because people suspect he committed suicide. How have attitudes about suicide and mental illness changed since the 19th century?
What role does violence play in The Lie Tree? How is violence or the threat of it used to control people's behavior?
- Author: Frances Hardinge
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: April 19, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 384
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love mystery and fantasy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.