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Fly By Night Paperback – Unabridged, 7 Jan 2011
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Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now. (Patrick Ness)
From the winner of the Costa Children's Book Award 2015. Stunningly original, fabulously inventive and packed with humour and witSee all Product description
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As others have said on this site, Hardinge is a fine writer with a poetical style - there is a richness of imagery (particularly personification) which elevates her novels above the run of common-or-garden fantasy writers, though this in itself is of course a matter of personal taste. She allies this interesting style with an original imagination - she has created a convincing, if fantastical, world, derived like all fantasy from previously existing ideas but taking these to new places. The novel is well-paced, with a compelling plot, and though she herself describes it, slightly dismissively, as a 'yarn', it is better than many yarns I've read recently in the same genre. She tackles 'big ideas' for one thing - freedom of thought, freedom of speech, religious toleration. And her characters are vivid and authentic - Mosca is spikily realistic, her naivete getting her into and out of scrapes and her warmth and humanity, like Lyra in Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, being her saving grace. What most impressed me about the novel was the way Hardinge generally kept the reader seeing the tale from Mosca's viewpoint so we mostly saw events and characters through her innocent eyes, though we had a few additional glimpses of the duchess etc which Mosca didn't have. Hardinge managed to balance our feelings towards Eponymous, for example, so that we sort of liked him while also distrusting him, feeling he was a silver-tongued mountebank-type while also hoping he'd turn out to be a good guy. I thought this was very skillful. The novel is full of tension, a background feeling of danger, but also some nice humorous elements here and there, and some satisfying plot twists. Saracen is a stroke of genius, and the novel is full of well-realised background information and minor characters, with some excellent set-pieces.
Overall, if you like unusual fantasy books with young protagonists but enough adult characters and substantial themes to interest a grown-up reader, then this might well be for you. Lively, well-paced, skillfully and beautifully written, an interesting narrative with believable and entertaining characters.
Our glimpse into the life, and world, of Mosca, has barely begun. Read it and become acquainted with the twice prize-winning Hardinge's engaging fiction . . .
I can't wait to read Twilight Robbery, the second installment. I'm sure it will be as good or even better. Fly By Night is my first Frances Hardinge book that I have read and impressed I am. She's a very good author with an amazing imagination.