Two Minute Review: Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

Sunday, July 23, 2017
Title: Fly By Night
Author: Frances Hardinge
Genre: fantasy
Series: Fly By Night #1
Pages: 448
Published: 2006; March 14 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 3.5/5

Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn't got much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, Saracen, who'll bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn't know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life.

Enter Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking con man who seems to love words nearly as much as Mosca herself. Soon Mosca and Clent are living a life of deceit and danger -- discovering secret societies, following shady characters onto floating coffeehouses, and entangling themselves with crazed dukes and double-crossing racketeers. It would be exactly the kind of tale Mosca has always longed to take part in, until she learns that her one true love -- words -- may be the death of her.

Mosca Mye burned down her uncle's mill when leaving town in the dead of night. While carrying a large, angry goose. With a man she doesn't know, who is on the run from the law, who she also set free to aid in her own escape from the drudgery of her homelife. It doesn't get much better from there for Mosca, Saracen (the goose), or Eponymous Clent (the escaped spy), but it does get highly entertaining. Fly By Night is a middle grade/early young adult novel but there is so much going on -- subtle hints, allusions, references, jokes, wordplay - that will make it readily appeal to readers of all ages and kinds.

Fly By Night is a dense and clever read; this is an author with a unique grasp on language and verbiage. In this world where books are illegal and dangerous to have, Hardinge takes pains to illustrate how that would affect a society and uses her urchin main character to subvert expectations. Granted, this version of Fahrenheit 451 runs a bit silly but it's consistently smart. The twists in the plot, the depth of the world, the dimensions of all the characters (even the villains!) all add up to create a viable, visual story. This is a good read but it does overextend itself somewhat. At almost four hundred fifty pages total, the inevitable lag in pacing is noticeable but also not wholly detrimental.

Clever, fun, detailed, Fly By Night has creativity and fun to spare.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds super interesting, I've never heard of it! But it has a lot of elements I usually enjoy so despite the pacing I think I'll add it to my TBR. Glad you reviewed this :)


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