oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
[personal profile] oyceter
I feel like I have been hearing about Frances Hardinge from my dwircle for quite some time now, and I've finally gotten around to reading her after a reading binge that I blame on [personal profile] skygiants' posts on the Fionavar Tapestry. (I started with The Fionavar Tapestry last weekend and then.. kept reading things! It was great! I think I read more books this past week than I have all year to date!)

Verdigris Deep

Ryan, Chelle and Josh are desperate for bus money one night, and Josh ends up sneaking down a well to grab some of the wishing coins. But then each of them begin developing strange powers (I am still viscerally creeped out by Ryan's), and they find that they have to start granting the wishes tied to the coins they took. And since granting wishes never goes well, things slowly start to go very, very wrong.

I've seen many comparisons of Hardinge with Diana Wynne Jones, and this book in particular feels very much like DWJ--the oddball kids, the way some unlikable characters grow likable and others turn bad, the slowly growing sense of dread and uneasiness. This book was very creepy in that damp fingers down your spine kind of way, which was not what I had been expecting. There's a lot here about what you wish for on the surface and what you actually want, and how you can be trapped in wishes you've outgrown. I also liked that even though Ryan, Chelle and Josh band together because both Ryan and Chelle would have been picked on at school if not for Josh, Hardinge takes time to show what bits are being friends just because there's no one else and how you can kind of be friends with someone and only get to know them better later.

The Lie Tree

So, I thought Verdigris Deep was creepy. The Lie Tree is SO MUCH CREEPIER O_o.

Faith's father is a discredited paleontologist who has taken his family and a secret project to an island to avoid the public eye, but growing a tree that feeds on lies that you spread never turns out well. This is set in the late 19th century, and it manages to make the time period feel just as alien as a built-from-scratch fantasy world. Hardinge makes fossils and the radical idea of evolution feel terrifying and world- and faith-shaking in a way I haven't really encountered before, and there's a matter-of-factness to the Victorian focus on morbidity that makes the entire worldview feel foreign. I went and looked up tons of details on Victorian photography and mourning rituals after this.

I loved Faith, who is clever and angry and not particularly nice, how she despises her mother and desperately wants her father's acknowledgement even though he is a terrible human being. I love that Hardinge doesn't try to file off her edges (or anyone else's, for that matter), and although it's not particularly new to talk about just how circumscribed women's roles were, it's rare to get that visceral feeling of being slowly stifled. Also, bonus points for not magically making Faith believe in evolution and other things we now know are scientifically correct; one of my favorite exchanges consists of one person arguing that something is caused by animal magnetism only to be pooh-poohed for being unscientific, as obviously it is spiritual energy instead.

This is a very, very good book, and I've been deliberately holding off on binging on more of Hardinge so I don't get through all her back catalog too quickly.

Links:


Link me to other write ups! I'm sad I missed the conversations!

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 08:14 am (UTC)
commodorified: a capital m, in fancy type, on a coloured background (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] commodorified
May I commend The Lions of Al-Rassan, if you haven't devoured it already?

I love Guy Kay in general, sometimes more, sometimes less, but that one is a Book Of My Heart.

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 09:19 am (UTC)
starlady: (bibliophile)
Posted by [personal profile] starlady
Verdigris Deep is the one I haven't read yet! But my will to resist is slowly slipping away…

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 11:16 am (UTC)
skygiants: Sheska from Fullmetal Alchemist with her head on a pile of books (ded from book)
Posted by [personal profile] skygiants
yesssssssss \o/

I said in my review that I didn't think Lie Tree was my favorite of her books but I don't even know if that's true anymore, I've completely lost my ability to assign ranks, I love them all too much!

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 13th, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC)
skygiants: the aunts from Pushing Daisies reading and sipping wine on a couch (wine and books)
Posted by [personal profile] skygiants
For ages Fly By Night was my favorite that I defended against all comers because it was my first and Mosca is exactly my favorite type of character, but then Cuckoo Song came out and suddenly there was a challenger, and then Lie Tree came out and now I don't even know! Her worldbuilding is SO GOOD though. Like, you get to the point at which any other author would stop and be like, "ok, that's enough worldbuilding," and she goes on and adds five more incredibly creative things just for fun.

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 12:53 pm (UTC)
cofax7: climbing on an abbey wall  (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] cofax7
I just read The Lie Tree, and yes, SO CREEPY. It was excellent and I must read more!

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC)
musesfool: Inara (i know where beauty lives)
Posted by [personal profile] musesfool
Verdigris Deep was so much creepier than I expected but in a good way.

I've been saving The Lie Tree, but I seriously recommend both A Face Like Glass and Gullstruck Island. The latter is absolutely stunning.

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 04:07 pm (UTC)
intothespin: Drawing of a woman lying down reading by Kate Beaton (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] intothespin
My absolute FAVORITE is Cuckoo Song.

(no subject)

Thu, Aug. 6th, 2015 10:01 pm (UTC)
hebethen: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] hebethen
Same! Then I think I'd put Verdigris Deep after that, then... things get murky. Face Like Glass, maybe?

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