The very first book I reviewed for this blog was Francis Hardinge’s book Fly-by-Night, which was a revelation of language, story and idea; it was everything a new and original fantasy should be. I never hoped for a sequel, but almost four years later, we have one. In Fly Trap, Mosca Mye, Saracen (her lethal pet goose) and Eponymous Clent (her erstwhile employer) have escaped from Mandelion and, after a stint in debtor’s prison and a hair-raising encounter with a pawnbrokers’ auction, they find themselves in the town of Toll.
In Toll, all citizens (and visitors) are separated into either Day or Night dwellers, based merely on their names. Eponymous is judged a day-dweller, by Mosca is banished to the Night side–how will they be able to protect the mayor’s daughter, victim of a kidnapping plot? How will they be able to protect themselves when the kidnappers realize they know all about them? And are the terrifying Locksmiths still pursuing them from Mandelion?
As usual, Hardinge’s plot is twisty and labyrinthine–in the most wonderful possible way. I only figured out one plot twist ahead of time, but Hardinge twisted that twist three more times after it had been revealed, and I was left breathless and exhilarated. Her indelible characters–each with a perfectly chosen name–are always enthralling, and her word choice and writing style are intelligent and erudite without being impenetrable to the average reader.
The book is long, but not as long as many other doorstop fantasies that have been published in the last few years, and the book is so engrossing that the length won’t be noticed. The story is technically a fantasy, in that it doesn’t take place in any real place on earth, but it isn’t a witches-and-wizards-and-magic fantasy–Mosca and her compatriots are more real than many recent characters in realistic fiction books. I highly recommend this book to anyone–child or adult–who likes unique, rousing–even epic–adventures.
Posted by: Sarah