Synopsis (From GoodReads):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. The bigger the lie, the more people who believe it, the bigger the truth that is uncovered.
The girl realizes that she is good at lying and that the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, so she begins to spread untruths far and wide across her small island community. But as her tales spiral out of control, she discovers that where lies seduce, truths shatter. . . .
The Lie Tree, by Francis Hardinge has everything a great Gothic novel should: murder, mystery, oppression, hallucinogenic fruits, a peculiar plant that only grows by feeding it lies. What? Wait. Back up. What was that about the strange plant? In the shadow of Darwin's Origin Of Species, scientists scramble to make sense of everything they thought they knew about God's world. What Faith's father is willing to do to find out the truth requires lies that will ruin her family.
Throughout the book, there are many analogies to the Tree Of Knowledge and the snake trying to tempt those who wish learn it's secrets. The father is described as hissing in irritation, and there is even a pet snake that plays into the story.
From the bleak Victorian setting, to the wide array of eccentric characters, this book creates an eerie, oppressive atmosphere that conveyed the terrible treatment of women during this time. As we meet the aptly named Faith and her Father, we get a sense of each character yearning for knowledge. Faith must overcome the obstacle of being a girl who is expected to blindly follow her father's instructions, at all costs. She has seen how little she is valued, yet desperately wants to be loved and accepted by this man who will never consider her worthy. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the book is where Faith's father describes how she is a burden who can never repay her debt to her family. This WAS the way men thought of women in the 19th century.
Even knowing how her father felt about her, when he is found dead, Faith is determined to prove that he was murdered. But who would want to do something like that? Does it have anything to do with the mysterious plant that she helped her father hide in a cave? As she uncovers the many layers of deceit, Faith must reconsider what kind of person her father actually was. Will she make increasingly murky judgements in order to lie and "feed" the tree? And who will pay for those lies?
This story is about how far one is willing to go to get what they want. How far did Faith's father go? What did he sacrifice in order to get this valuable asset? What will be Faith's offering? This novel was filled with intrigue and plot twists that made it so I couldn't put it down. Read it when you can sacrifice a weekend to the Book Gods. Once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.
Release Date: April 19th, 2016
Recommendation: For those who love a good Gothic Horror book, this one delivers a strange and twisted story.