Fly By Night is the stunning debut novel from Frances Hardinge, author of the Costa Award winning The Lie Tree.
As the realm struggles to maintain an uneasy peace after years of civil war and tyranny, a twelve-year-old orphan called Mosca Mye and her loyal companion, a cantankerous goose, are about to become the unlikely heroes of a radical revolution. Mosca is on the run, heading for the city of Mandelion. There she finds herself living by her wits among cut-throat highwaymen, spies and smugglers. With peril at every turn, Mosca uncovers a dark plot to terrorize the people of Mandelion, and soon merry mayhem leads to murder . . .
Winner of the Branford Boase award, Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge has an unforgettable cast of characters and an inspiring message at its heart – sometimes the power of words can change the world.
Fly By Night is followed by its thrilling sequel, Twilight Robbery.
'Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now' - Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls.
In a broken-down medieval kingdom where reading is forbidden, 12-year-old Mosca Mye is drawn to a traveling con artist who "brought phrases as vivid and strange as spices, and he smiled as he spoke, as if tasting them." Hardinge's stylish way with prose gives her sprawling debut fantasy a literate yet often silly tone that calls to mind Monty Python. Plucky Mosca rescues the con man called Eponymous Clent from the town stocks, accidentally burning down her uncle's mill in the process. Their journey unfolds against a wickedly complex political backdrop, a fragmented civilization largely run by guilds of locksmiths, boatmen and printers (the only ones allowed to decide which books will survive). Mosca and Clent find themselves embroiled in intrigue between the guilds, an entry point to a sly bit of allegory involving a secret printing press and "dangerous" pamphleteers ("Truth is dangerous. It topples palaces and kills kings.... And yet there is one thing that is more dangerous than Truth. Those who would silence Truth's voice are more destructive by far," a teacher reads aloud). Along with an infusion of high-camp fantasy, Hardinge firmly plants in the novel the heroine's serious love of reading, which informs nearly everything Mosca does ("I'd been hoarding words for years," she says in an introspective moment, "buying them from peddlers and carving them secretly into bits of bark so I wouldn't forget them"). And the setting is detailed and complex enough to inspire many sequels. Ages 10-up.