The book opens aboard a rainy mail boat headed for a small island off the coast of England called Vane. The protagonist, fourteen year old Faith Sunderly is heading to the island with her Father, the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, mother Myrtle, younger brother Howard and Uncle Miles. They are escaping a scandal regarding some fossils that the Reverend found and are hoping that they can ride out the storm on Vane. However news of the scandal soon reaches the island and they are snubbed from society there too, and then Faith's father is found dead and the villagers refuse to have him buried on consecrated land as they think he committed suicide. Faith is certain that her father was murdered and sets about finding the culprit.
At the centre of the story is a tree that her father fiercely protected and told no one about apart from Faith. The tree is unlike anything Faith has seen before and seems to feed on lies and then bear fruit which tells you a truth. Faith uses this tree to get clues to find out what happened to her Father.
I loved this book. It had me gripped from the beginning and had me glued to the pages. Faith is a very likable main character and I enjoyed the element of her story about wanting to be recognised as a natural scientist but not being taken seriously due to her age and sex. The book is set in Victorian times so there is mention of mourning procedures and the strange Victorian tradition of taking photographs of the dead propped up to make them look alive. All of the details added to a wonderfully rich story and very entertaining read. I think this book is a worthy winner of the Costa book award last year and I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it.
Title: The Lie Tree
Author: Frances Hardinge
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books