Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy – a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.
In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder – or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.
Disclaimer: I received a physical copy of the book from Pan Macmillan India in exchange for an honest review! However, the thoughts, opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own.
I had been seeing Francis Hardinge’s books all over bookstagram feed – and they had been on my list to read for a long time; So with the Quarantine in place; I found no reason not to read this beauty (just saying, the only reason I hadn’t already picked it up, because the hype was extreme and I really didn’t want to spoil my expectations!).
It is the late 1800s; and science is slowly finding its footing amongst the religion fanatics – and one such family is that of the protagonist Faith’s family. After a scientific debacle, her father, Reverend Eramus immediately moves his family to an island on the pretext of a fossil dig. Faith knows that there is something amiss in the way they so suddenly left their home for this change; but considering the fact that she is a female, not even an adult female at that, means that her place to know the “important things” isn’t exactly high on the list.
It’s easy to get lost in the dreary world that Ms. Hardinge puts forward – and commiserate with the frustration as well as the anger Faith feels at being dismissed oh so easily despite her oh so obvious interest in her father’s work and the workings of the scientific world.
When her curiosity gets better of her; and she finds a curious specimen in her father’s possession – she unravels something far more sinister. And when her father’s body is found, considered to be suicide; it is up to Faith to unravel the threads as well plot a plan to exact revenge on those she deems responsible for her father and her family’s fate and circumstances.
The Lie Tree is an exhilarating ride; not just because of that perfect combination of history and fantasy – but also because the author has actually put forth a world that starkly shows the rampant misogyny, gender discrimination and condescension shown towards the females or rather the weaker sex; and the way the same weaker uses those opinions to their own advantage.