Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Fly By Night

Fly By Night

Frances Hardinge
For ages 12 and up
Harry N. Abrams, 2018   ISBN: 978-1419730344

Mosca Mye loves to read. She loves words and books, and when she is given the opportunity to leave her bleak and bookless life she leaps at the chance. Thus it is that she ends up on the run in the company of Eponymous Clent, a man with a gift for the gab who uses his skill with words to con people out of whatever he can.  Mosca takes Saracen with her, a goose who terrifies fierce dogs and dangerous men.

It is not long before Mosca, Clent, and Saracen are in Mandelion, a city that seems to be on the brink of collapse, torn between the forces of powerful guilds and a mad duke. For now the Stationers are on top but their situation is precarious, and it seems very likely that the Locksmiths may soon take over. Before Mosca has even time to adjust to her new life she is caught up in a whirlpool of intrigue, deceit, confusion, and even murder. Mosca does what she thinks is right for her, which means that she ends up betraying others. It is only when she discovers who is really behind the political problems, that Mosca realizes that she has made some terrible mistakes is her effort to move up in the world. It is up to her to correct these mistakes before it is too late, before innocent lives are lost and the whole future of Mandelion is put in jeopardy.

This fascinating and gripping story will interest readers on many levels. There is Mosca's own growth and self awareness, which develops as the story unfolds, and then there is the history of the country that she lives in, which is very similar to the histories of countries that some of us call home. In our world countries have torn themselves apart from the inside because of religion and because of individual ambitions, which is what is happening in Mosca's country. It is intriguing to see such a familiar political situation in this new and fresh setting, and to see how things evolve and change over time.

Throughout the book colorful characters and plenty of action are set against a backdrop which puts emphasis on the power of the written word. Frances Hardinge is certainly a writer to watch.