Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Frances Hardinge Fest 2/3

To celebrate the release of Frances Hardinge's latest novel, Deeplight, here is a bit of a Frances-fest!

A Face Like Glass by Frances HardingeNow we come to my joint all-time favourite. A Face Like Glass. This is a staple of my recommendations as Book Doctor when I meet a young patient whose reading age tends to be quite a bit above their actual years. It's brilliant for those clever clogs who have read everything in the middle-grade section, who have hoovered up the classics, but are still too young for teen and YA titles. (The exploding cheese is what cinches it, usually). Once again, Hardinge manifests her amazing talent for world-building, complete with a cornucopia of incredibly rich and quirky detail. Her style is fantastically evocative and imaginative without ever being obscure or pretentious. The plot is gripping, the characters very engaging (read my full review in the 2012 Children's Books Ireland Reading Guide p25!). You had been warned about the gushing.

lietreeNext up and second all-time favourite is The Lie Tree. Its success as children's and overall Costa award perhaps speaks for itself. This one is darker and older, compared to previous novels (except Cuckoo Song which didn't work so well for me for some reason). Always the wordsmith and expert tale-spinner, Hardinge weaves seamlessly the strands of her narrative, from the investigation into a mysterious death, to a reckless search for a mythical plant via the battles of a terrific heroine against prejudice, the weight of conventions as well as her own grief and rage. My only quibble with this one, is the introduction of magic into a story that seemed rich enough without it. This feels, very briefly, problematic, especially as the darkness and scariness attached to it were already present. But it provides fantastic imagery and underlines the starkness of a cruelty that is all too real. The Lie Tree is an empowering read for any teen who feels equally excited and awed by the world of possibilities that opens to them when they reach the brink of adulthood. (Inis review)

While you wait for my take on Deeplight, why not take a look at Dani Solomon's 'Frances Hardinge’s books ranked by scariness' for the day that's in it?!

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