Book Review: Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

fly by night cover

View from the window seat:
Mosca Mye lives in the swampy town of Chough, where her cruel uncle locks her in his mill, her only friend is an irascible goose named Saracen, and she must hide her ability to read. In Mosca’s world, books are dangerous and forbidden, but Mosca yearns for more words. When Eponymous Clent, a con man who weaves words with much aplomb, comes to her small village, her life changes. Soon Mosca and Clent are in the middle of a power struggle between guilds, dukes, and radicals, and Mosca’s love for words just might be her undoing.

I am on a roll this week with discovering new authors! I LOVED Fly By Night. Mosca is a great protagonist with a questionable morality but a steadfast determination to better her standing in the world. She makes mistakes and assumptions, but when she realizes her wrongs, she does everything in her power to correct them. She also learns that first impressions of people aren’t always the true ones, and through these discoveries the readers realizes just how layered every character in this story is. Clent, her (mostly) unwilling companion, spins fantastical tales and talks his way out of trouble constantly in bouts of brilliant dialogue that had me laughing. Lady Tamarind, the sister of a duke who wields tremendous power, also harbors a secret. I loved watching Mosca change her opinions about these two characters as she finds out more about them. Even the goose Saracen has a strong personality!

The plot reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’s writing a little in that it winds around and little details that seem insignificant suddenly are revealed to be important aspects of the story. I so thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns.

And the writing! So quick and clever! Hardinge (and I know this is a total cliche to say) really has a way with words. Her descriptions are so unique and oftentimes so funny that the story takes on a whimsical feel.

Overall impression:
Fly By Night is a wholly original story chock-full of witty dialogue, unique characters, and a clever plot.



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