qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Hats off to The Hatted One

Book Review: Fly By Night, by Frances Hardinge
I've met Frances a couple of times; she is a rather good friend of kharin. Like the author, this book is charming, entertaining and clever. From the beginning I liked it; but after a few chapters I admit it fell into the difficult-to-put-down category. I'm not sure exactly which children the book is aimed at: those with intelligence and curiosity will benefit most from it.

The tale of Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent (not to mention Saracen the goose) begins with their escape from the nondescript village of Chough. The prologue sets the scene in a history similar to post-Civil War England, but as the tale proceeds with their trip to Mandelion, the impression is a little more continental, with the air of a network of city states like the Renaissance Low Countries or Italy. Mosca discovers the truth about her new employer as an agent of the Stationers' Guild, and in the town of Mandelion, as they go about their business tracking down an unapproved printing press, they semi-unwittingly unleash a series of events that bring the town to the brink of destruction.

It's devilishly well written, with an entertaining use of the English language (though I do feel that in the normal course of events, pixelated was never destined to become a minor swear-word) and an absurd number of plot-twists that are carried out in the most plausible fashion - they are simply possibilities that had not been previously entertained, not Christie-like turns that require precognition to explain them. The enigmatic comment on the back cover becomes clear only in the final pages, but it is a fitting conclusion.
Tags: books
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