Summary: On an island off the south coast of Victorian England, fourteen-year-old Faith investigates the mysterious death of her father, who was involved in a scandal, and discovers a tree that feeds upon lies and gives those who eat its fruit visions of truth.
My Review: This book tries to do too many things at once. Set in the Victorian era, this is a story about lies, family, and the role of women. Faith wants to more than marry well, which is all a woman in that time period can do. She resents that she isn’t allowed to study natural science and evolution like her father and has become slightly bitter over it. While I was able to empathize with Faith, she was a hard character to like. She isn’t very nice to anyone save her brother Howard, and not all the time. Instead of befriending the local boy, she antagonizes him throughout the entire novel and shows him little mercy or kindness.
The family has moved from London due to a scandal which Faith about later in the book. Her father is killed while they are in their new home and Faith makes it her mission to find out who killed him. She uses the Lie Tree, a discovery of her father’s, to aid her. The lie tree has the book diving into the magical realism genre, one I am not a fan of. Basically, if you feed the tree a lie and make the lie come true, the tree will grow and provide a fruit. If you eat the fruit, you are given strange and very vague visions of the near future. I admit, the book totally lost me with this plot point.
The other themes of this book: the role of women and family are good. As much as Faith dislikes how her mother acts after her father dies, her mother is doing the only thing available to her to ensure her children have some sort of future. Faith doesn’t understand much of this, but begins to at the end of the novel. Faith herself is a girl clearly born in the wrong time period. She has educated herself as best she could and wants to do more with her life than get married and have children.
Faith adores her father, as both a man and a scientist. She constantly hopes to get his approval and when she does, it is one of her happier moments in the story. She is put in charge of watching over her younger brother and keeping him occupied. Understanding that he is a scared little boy, Faith protects him as best she could and if often seen talking or playing with him. She worships her father, is mostly disgusted by her mother, but she truly does love her brother.
If the tree wasn’t involved as well as other plot points, I would have given this a much higher rating. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of the magical realism genre. If that doesn’t bother you, then give this book a try.