Author: Frances Hardinge
Publisher: Macmillan Publishers, 2005 (UK)
HarperCollins, 2006 (US)
Awards: Branford Boase Award (UK), School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2006 (US)
I was excited to find this book on display at my local library during the American Library Association’s “Banned Books Week” back in October. I picked it up, read half of it, lost interest, then recently checked it out again to give it another shot. I know what you’re thinking, “You lost interest in an award-winning Fantasy book which is about banned books?!” Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Although Fly By Night is an adventure story filled with unique and quirky characters and a world that is unlike our own, overall, I found the book to be tedious.
The book is written in faux old English, at an unnamed time and place which mildly resembles jolly old England at the turn of the century. The writing has some amusing attributes – my favorite being that each chapter is lettered and titled, “A is for…”, “B is for…” and so on – but many of the chapter are simply too long and contain too many side stories which do not serve the plot whatsoever.
Mosca, our main character, is a Spunky young girl whose deceased father was once a great writer. Because of this Mosca has learned to read and write, which in a world where written word is not only banned but feared, leads her to become intertwined in a full on war. Mosca meets a con man who is involved with several guilds which resemble social / religious / political groups. The guild leaders among the only characters who can read and write. They use the power of fear to manipulate the general public into following their guild – eventually this leads to a full on war. Mosca, who cannot seem to stay out of trouble becomes a key player in the outcome of the battle. The book ends with an uncertainty for where Mosca, her con man, and the general public will end up next.
Though this book has many great attributes of a riveting fantasy novel, the length, word choice, and never-ending subplots prevent me from recommending it to any of my friends. If wordiness and meandering plots is your thing, I’d find this book suitable for readers aged 10+.
Posted by: Janine Reads