Hello humans! Thank you for joining me today as I review another amazing book by the wonderful Frances Hardinge. I have absolutely no idea why I don’t just up and buy everything this author has ever written as so far I have loved each book I have read. The Lie Tree was phenomenal, A Skinful of Shadows was stunning, and now Fly By Night which was probably my favourite of the three! I don’t know if it’s the covers or something else but I never think I’m going to enjoy these books, strange and sinister. But this book is phenomenal and pushes a lot of my favourite buttons. Allow me to elucidate.
Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn’t got much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, Saracen, who’ll bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn’t know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life.
Enter Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking con man who seems to love words nearly as much as Mosca herself. Soon Mosca and Clent are living a life of deceit and danger — discovering secret societies, following shady characters onto floating coffeehouses, and entangling themselves with crazed dukes and double-crossing racketeers. It would be exactly the kind of tale Mosca has always longed to take part in, until she learns that her one true love — words — may be the death of her.
“Fly by Night” is astonishingly original, a grand feat of the imagination from a masterful new storyteller.
First thing I always love – a protagonist who loves reading and/or words. Mosca is one such protagonist and I absolutely adored her. Not only did she remind me of my younger self (ok, my present self too) always desperate to have her nose stuck in a book, but she’s also wondrously feisty without ever being a cliché. Middle-Grade heroines, they really do get the job done.
Next thing that always does it for me, interesting belief systems. This book certainly has them. The idea of many small gods, more than one for every day of the year by the sounds of it, was exactly the right amount of ‘belief system’ to make sense within a society without overwhelming the plot. It’s the little details of Hardinge’s work that make them so engrossing and Fly by Night is dripping in detail.
The third thing I love, homicidal animals. Those who have read my reviews of the Spellslinger series will know that I absolutely adore Reichis the murderous squirrel cat. In this case, the character is not a talking animal but Mosca’s goose is one of the most entertaining animal sidekicks I have read in a long time. There was something very Pratchett about the goose, which those who have read his work will understand if I say the goose is kind of like the luggage?
This is just a wonderful action-packed adventure. Around every turn, there are more quirky characters and settings. It sweeps you up and along with the ride and suddenly you’re at the end of the story with no idea where the afternoon went.
I think what helps this book is that the plot actually makes a lot of sense, it’s fairly logical, which means that the more quirky characters and the outlandish settings can shine through, it’s the right balance between a lot of different threads of plot, character and setting and it just works.
I need to get my hands on the sequel Fly Trap soon as I cannot wait to continue on with these characters.
My rating: 5/5 stars
All opinions are my own.
What say you? Which Middle-Grade books do you like best? Let me know in the comments below!