Fly By Night
Ages 12 and up
HarperCollins, 2006, 0-06-087627-1
Mosca Mye loves to read. She loves words and books and when the opportunity presents itself for her to leave her bleak and bookless life she leaps at the chance. Thus it is that she ends up on the run in the company of Eponymous Clent, a man with a gift for the gab who uses his skill with words to con people out of whatever he can. With her, Mosca takes Saracen, a goose who terrifies fierce dogs and dangerous men.
It is not long before Mosca, Clent, and Saracen are in Mandelion, a city which seems to be on the brink of collapse, torn between the forces of powerful guilds and a mad duke. For now the Stationers are on top but their situation is precarious and it seems very likely that the Locksmiths may soon take over. Before Mosca has even time to adjust to her new life she is caught up in a whirlpool of intrigue, deceit, confusion, and even murder. Mosca does what she thinks is right for her, which means that she ends up betraying others. It is only when she discovers who is really behind the political problems that Mosca realizes that she has made some terrible mistakes is her effort to move up in the world. It is up to her to correct these mistakes before it is too late, before innocent lives are lost and the whole future of Mandelion is put in jeopardy.
This fascinating and gripping story will interest readers on many levels. There is Mosca’s own growth and self awareness which develops as the story unfolds, and then there is the history of the country that she lives in, one which reflects our own history in many ways. As in Mosca’s land, countries in our world have torn themselves apart from the inside because of religion and because of individual ambitions. It is intriguing to see these situations in this new and fresh setting and to see how they evolve and change over time.
Colorful characters and plenty of action set against a backdrop which puts emphasis on the power of the written word make this an unforgettable title. Frances Hardinge is certainly a writer to watch.
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