ARC Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

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To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.


**** Thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review****

Overall this is a decent read but not anything that really impressed me. I don’t normally read a lot of historical fiction but I still enjoyed “The Lie Tree” enough to give it 3 stars. I also enjoyed Hardinge’s style and will probably read more of her work.


My biggest problem with the story was how slow it was and how long it took to set itself up. It has a very, very slow start and we spend a lot of time learning about Faith (our MC), her family, and the mystery surrounding their sudden move to the island of Vane. I found my attention and interest floundering a few times but I pushed on simply for the answers to the murder mystery and the appearance of The Lie Tree itself. Which I will let you know now doesn’t show up until about halfway through the book and let’s be honest the tree’s a big lure.

Hardinge does a fantastic job setting the atmosphere for this book, it’s eerie and intriguing which couples well with the mystery theme. Her writing style also flows very well and was easy to read through.

Overall the book is one giant mystery because it’s a few mysteries all tangled into one, we have the mystery of the family’s move, the mystery of Faith’s father’s death, and the general mystery of the “lie tree”.  All of these things definitely pique interest and Hardinge does a great job of keeping you guessing. However, the mysteries are slow and subtle; this is not a thriller.

Really though my craving for answers was one of the only things that kept me reading since a lot of the time the story dragged.


They’re all very complex and…gray; no black and white, good and bad characters here. I liked Faith and her brother Howard but every other person on the island including Faith’s family? Not so much. I don’t think there was a single kind-hearted person there, everyone is kind of out for themselves which I liked because it made things interesting and realistic but at the same time they made me very mad. Which was probably the point.

Faith is very headstrong and clever she wants to be a natural scientist and since it’s set in the 1800’s, it isn’t exactly a woman’s profession. She’s faced with ridicule by men through out the duration of the book and she isn’t taken seriously. I loved how she didn’t take any of that shit from anyone and was determined to go out and prove them all wrong. Girl power. Although at times being inside her head-space could get tedious just because she spent a lot of time…monologuing.

None of the other characters were particularity memorable and while I appreciated some of their complexity (and moral gray areas) I didn’t enjoy the characters much themselves. Faith’s parents are pretty selfish and wrapped up in protecting themselves versus their children and that’s something I couldn’t really look past.

in conclusion

As I said earlier it’s a decent read, I liked the mysteries that are all tangled up in the story and the “lie tree” is quite interesting. Faith’s character was enjoyable and the other characters are very developed. However, I thought the story dragged a lot at times and got slow to the point of boredom. So mixed feelings overall and I’m in the minority on this book since a lot of other people loved it and gave it 4-5 star reviews. I just don’t think this book was for me in the end.


Not really, unfortunately. However if you’re a big fan of historical fiction and the old fashioned sort of murder mystery you may enjoy this book. Plenty of other people loved this book a lot more than I did so you may be one of them!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

  1. Carrianne May 17, 2016 / 6:00 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. The pacing in this book was incredibly painful for me to endure. Like I said in my review. It was frustrating that a huge plot point didn’t occur until I third of the way through the book. It bums me out that I didn’t enjoy this book more, because the premise sounded so promising. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thesassygeek May 17, 2016 / 10:43 pm

      Yeeeeeees. I’m happy you’re here in the minority with me haha. I can’t believe it took so long for the lie tree to even show up, THAT was frustrating! Plus it was the whole reason I even wanted to read the book. You’re definitely not the only one who’s bummed
      Thanks and I’ll check your review out as well! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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