Today I would like to welcome guest reviewer Jane Routley to The Great Raven. If you have been following this blog for a while, you may have read her guest post about her work.
This time, Jane is keen to share a world she has recently discovered, created by YA author Frances Hardinge.
Take it away, Jane!
Several times during this year’s N.Z. Worldcon, the name Frances Hardinge was mentioned by a number of panellists as a writer to go on to you’ve finished all of Rowling or Tolkien.
So I tracked some down. So far I’ve only had time to read her two Mosca Mye books – Fly by Night and Twilight Robbery, but I’m totally hooked.
Mosca Mye is a strong-willed 11 year old girl who loves words and reading in a world in which most people fear the written word. Orphaned, she leaves her village in the company of marvellously named con-man Eponymous Clent and her pet goose Saracen (otherwise known as the goose apocalypse). Highwaymen, thieves, mad dukes, sinister guild men and floating coffee houses populate their following adventures, a rich rambunctious tapestry enhanced by wonderful names and joyful word play. This is a world which looks like 17th Century England, but in which a series of small states exist in uneasy truce after a vicious civil war and an even more vicious religious war.
Most people in this world worship the Beloved, a pantheon of small gods with wonderful and sometimes punning names, such as Goodman Palpitattle, he who keeps the flies out of jam and butter churns and Goodlady Whenyouleast, Lady of reunions.
The bookshelves are full of fantasy novels about feisty orphans taking on the world, but Hardinge’s books feel so fresh and original. I adored the stubborn and spiky Mosca and the cunning Mr Clent. The plot was so intricate and yet fell into place so effortlessly I was completely charmed and also envious.
The plotting, the world building, the story telling and the sophisticated but never dull themes of rebellion, censorship, religious tolerance and the struggle for a fairer world are all marvellous and both books romp gloriously along. And the blurbs on her other books sound wonderful. Cities where faces don’t show emotions? Trees which replace lies for truth? Can’t wait to read them.