Book Review: THE LIE TREE by Frances Hardinge

Title in white against besides a spreading oak tree
Genre: Historical (Gothic)
Age Range: YA
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: Standalone


the lie tree

The leaves were cold and slightly clammy. There was no mistaking them. She had seen their likeness painstakingly sketched in her father’s journal. This was his greatest secret, his treasure and his undoing. The Tree of Lies. Now it was hers, and the journey he had never finished stretched out before her.

When Faith’s father is found dead under mysterious circumstances, she is determined to untangle the truth from the lies. Searching through his belongings for clues, she discovers a strange tree. A tree that feeds off whispered lies and bears fruit that reveals hidden secrets.

But as Faith’s untruths spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter…

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


My first Frances Hardinge (even if it’s not the one that my friends recommended I read first. Sorry!).

This is another hard book to classify (which seems to be my current reading habits). It’s a fictional story set in Victorian England, that starts off feeling like a more traditional historical fiction about excavations and societal snubs. Then the more gothic elements come in – the lie tree’s soft magic and a murder mystery.

It’s very atmospheric, full of secrets and lies. The slightly unsettling atmosphere is my favourite part of gothic fiction – the creaking stairs and flickering candles, as well as the changing world unbalancing society.

The remote island and insular community made Faith and her family outsiders, and that heightened the uneasy atmosphere and added another challenge for Faith to overcome. She didn’t just have to find out what happened, but also fight the opinions of those determined to paint her family in the worst light.

I liked how the mix of religion, superstition, and science that made the natural science community was so central to the story. It’s so realistic and added a layer of deceit and mixed motives to the story, as well as exploring how people will fix data to prove their own opinions. It also highlighted how blind we can all be to our prejudices, even if we rail against similar or the same prejudices. It was woven so well into the finale and the final reveal.

I’m excited to read more books by  Frances Hardinge – and I have a few stacked up that I bought in a multi-buy (the works still has copies in some stores, I believe). However, I think I might read something else first in case reading too many books by the same author and same vibe reduces my enjoyment.

Read my reviews of other books by Frances Hardinge:


Fly By Night:


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