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Fly By Night

Frances Hardinge
Oct 2005
Fly By Night is set in an imagined world (both similar to and different from eighteenth century England) and turns upon the fate of twelve-year old Mosca, the incorrigible goose Saracen and unscrupulous, highfaluting Eponymous Clent. For various reasons they are each reviled and so, seeking to escape their straitened circumstances, they become mired in the dangerous political plotting that afflicts the Fractured Realm.

On some levels, it’s very tempting to compare this book to Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy and to view headstrong, courageous Mosca as a literary ‘daughter of Lyra’. However, far from being an imitator, Frances Hardinge has the confidence and skill to tell her story in a voice that is delightfully idiosyncratic, witty and humane. You cannot fail to appreciate the sheer relish with which Hardinge uses language, conveying how dangerous, seductive and wonderful words (and books) can be. There is also a strong sense of genuine affection in her depiction of humankind in all its weirdness and whimsicality. Characters that are variously terrifying, ridiculous, magnificent and pitiable are all described with equal care and conviction.

A very impressive debut!


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