The Lie Tree Frances Hardinge

Anirudh Nistala T5 English


The Lie Tree is a historical fantasy by Francis Hardinge, with many revolutionary ideas that challenge the strict, male dominant society of the late 1800's. Faith Sunderly, a fourteen-year-old girl, and her family have just moved to an remote island called Vane for a archeological dig. Faith is determined to break the current stereotype and show everyone that she is clever and does know about things. Soon, Faith finds out the true reasons why her family came to the island, and the overwhelming rumor that surrounds them. After her father's tragic death, she is the only one who suspects it was not just an accident, and takes it to herself to find the truth. On her search for the truth, Faith discovers a lie. A tree of lies. This tree only bears fruit when told a lie. In return each fruit delivers a hidden truth. Using this tree and her not-so-small-after-all brain, Faith might be able to find the key to her father's death. Or she might be able to lure his murders right to her.

Cover Design by Vincent Chong

Faith Sunderly

Faith Sunderly is an inquisitive young 14-year-old girl. To most she is modest, well-mannered and proper. But inside, Faith is an observer, pursuing the naturalist profession of her father. She notices things that others don't, and has a mind that works beyond the perceived quiet and un-intelligent woman stereotype in these years. In time she learns the true reasons her family fled the main land, and that her father's murder was not an accident. During her search for the truth, Faith discovers a tree. A tree that seems to feed off the lies of others. Using this tree she figures the true, dark secrets of her father's past, and deduces who gained the most to murder the Reverend. Overall, she is an intrepid female protagonist, breaking any outlasting stereotypes concerning women.

The Lie Tree has been translate into many languages worldwide including the Hebrew translation shown behind

Mr. and Mrs. Lambent

Mr. Anthony Lambent is one of the head archeologists who calls Reverend Erasmus over for the archeological dig, unaware of the rumor that surrounds him yet. He and his colleagues are intrigued with Erasmus's work and know that the Reverend will be a great help to the team. Ms. Agatha Lambent is thought to be a quiet woman, just tagging along as Mr. Lambent's escort. But throughout her journey in finding the truth, Faith discovers that her father stole the lie tree from a couple of scientists by the last name of Winterbourne. After reading more and more of her father's diary entries, she learned that the Ms. Winterbourne had a huge reason to despise the Reverend. Erasmus had promised to get Mr. Winterbourne out of jail as payment for the tree, but had failed to, and Mr. Winterbourne had ended up dying of disease. Soon after checking the marriage records, Faith finds the following:

The parish register entry recorded the marriage of Anthony Lambent Esq. to Mrs. Agatha Winterbourne (Widow)

And then Faith knew.

Reverend Erasmus Sunderly

Reverend Erasmus Sunderly is a renowned natural scientist, with finds and ideas that are comparable to those of Darwin. But he has one setback. The Lie Tree. He discovered and took it for himself when visiting the Winterbournes one year, and has been fascinated by it ever since. The only downside was that Erasmus made the decision to ruin his career to save his career using the Lie Tree. The Lie only feeds of other's lies, and the bigger the lie the bigger the fruit produced. When taken a bite of, this fruit delivers to its consumer a truth as worthy as the lie it has been fed. Erasmus thought that if he fed a big enough lie to the tree, he might be able to gain a truth about how the human race was created, which is the main focus of his profession. So, with a devastating rumor he created for his career behind him, Erasmus drags his family to a remote island where it hasn't spread to continue his research and eat the fruit in peace. Little did he know that others would do anything to get the Lie Tree back.

Myrtle, Miles, and Howard Sunderly

Myrtle, Miles, and Howard Sunderly are three of Faith's family members who come along for the journey to Vane. Myrtle is Faith's mother; Howard is Faith's brother; and Miles is Faith's uncle.

Myrtle is a proper woman, always fussing over every small detail. She knows of the controversial rumor that has spread about her husband, and greatly worries why and how it ever started. After learning of Erasmus's death, she desperately doesn't want people to think it was a murder but more of an accident so that her reputation is not ruined. Faith despises her mother for not wanting the truth and trying to cover everything up.

Uncle Miles was a close friend of Rev. Erasmus, trying to guide him in the right path. He also knows about the rumor, and helps arrange for the trip to Vane. He plans it as just a small vacation to a dig for the newspapers, but he and Erasmus end up deciding that if they where to continue their carriers then they would have to stay permanently on the island. But after Erasmus's death, Faith doesn't like Miles's decision to side with Myrtle for the fact that it should be covered up as an accidental fall. Faith gets very protective when her family starts asking for Erasmus's papers, knowing that they might hold the key that would finally bring the rumor and murderers to justice.

Howard is Faith's much loved younger brother. Howard suffers from a mental condition where he is not able to concentrate on his work, so Faith protects and guides him. She makes sure that he always uses his right-hand to write, and buttons up all the buttons on his jacket. She even makes sure to play with him and put on a puppet show with unique characters if he ever feels bad. For Faith, Howard is the link to reality in all of the madness concerning her father, and she would give the world for him.


The Lie Tree takes place in the 1800's, in a time where there where many revolutionary discoveries in science were being made. From Curie to Edison to Einstein to Darwin, science was on the bloom for everyone alike. Also during this time, women were not respected in the matter that they are now. This fact sets up a great story concerning a young, female protagonist who is an up and coming naturalist. The main plot of the book takes place on an island called Vane where Faith's family moves after Erasmus and Miles decide that they need to outrun the overwhelming rumor. It is a jagged yet large island, which makes it a good place for a small knit community of characters and a great murder scene. Much of the action centers where the lie tree is, which changes from time to time. For some time, Erasmus hides it in a large tower next to their house, and casually sets up rabbit traps telling everyone that they just to keep out rouge animals. After Faith goes fishing with her brother one day, they spot a cave. Erasmus decides that this will be a good place to hide the tree, and takes Faith there in the middle of the night, telling her it's just a trip to test her strength as a woman who claims she is clever.

Reviews & Ratings

Praise for The Lie Tree

"Fiercely clever . . . will grip readers of all ages."

- The Costa Book Awards judges

"With her trademark wit and intelligence, Hardinge steers the intricate plot to a satisfying conclusion. At once entertaining and proactive, this is rich and resonant fare that manages to do what all good fantasy and historical fiction does: shine a light on our world."

- The Guardian

My Review

4.8 stars

The Lie Tree is a masterfully written book, with many bold ideas that bring the novel together. The main differentiator between other historical fiction books is the fact that there is an aspect of fantasy mixed in to the story. It is definitely hard to write a story centered on such an idea as a tree of lies, but the fact that she did is what makes it an even better novel. I'd say this book is for all young adults and above, from thirteen to one-hundred and thirteen. My favorite part was when we eventually discover who the mastermind behind the murder is, and especially why she did it. A disregarded woman naturalist scientist who wanted her tree that feeds off lies back and needed revenge for the death of her first husband? That seems like a explanation of murder that must of been hard to come up with, which is why I love this book and why many others will to.

About the Author

Francis Hardinge

Francis Hardinge is the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including Cuckoo Song (five starred reviews; shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal), The Lost Conspiracy (five starred reviews; Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist), Fly by Night (shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize), Well Witched (School Library Journal Best Book of 2008), and Fly Trap (shortlisted for the Guardian prize; long listed for the Carnegie Medal). She currently lives in England.

Frances Hardinge

Her website features a map of all the worlds of her novels mixed to one, while still being a place where you can learn more about Hardinge. I encourage you to check it out in your free time. Click on the button above for easy access.

Hardinge's Take on The Lie Tree

Other Books By Hardinge

Note: Teasers from Hardinge's website


In the underground city of Caverna the world's most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare – wines that can remove memories, cheeses that can make you hallucinate and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. The people of Caverna are more ordinary, but for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to show (or fake) joy, despair or fear – at a price.

Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a little girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. For Neverfell's emotions are as obvious on her face as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, though entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed…

Cuckoo Song

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it's too late…

Well Witched

Ryan and his friends don't think twice about stealing some money from a wishing well. After all, who's really going to miss a few tarnished coins?

The well witch does.

And she demands payback: Now Ryan, Josh, and Chelle must serve her . . . and the wishes that lie rotting at the bottom of her well. Each takes on powers they didn't ask for and don't want. Ryan grows strange bumps—are they eyes?—between his knuckles; Chelle starts speaking the secrets of strangers, no matter how awful and bloody; and Josh can suddenly—inexplicably—grant even the darkest of wishes, the kind of wishes that should never come true.

The Lost Conspiracy

On Gullstruck Island the volcanoes quarrel, beetles sing danger and occasionally a Lost is born… In the village of the Hollow Beasts live two sisters. Arilou is a Lost - a child with the power to depart her body and mind-fly with the winds – and Hathin is her helper. Together they hide a dangerous secret. Until sinister events threaten to uncover it. With a blue-skinned hunter on their trail and a dreadlocked warrior beside them, they must escape. Can the fate of two children decide the future of Gullstruck Island? Discover a dazzling world, a breathtaking heroine… and an incredible adventure. For on the island of Gullstruck nothing is exactly as it seems! With a cast of larger-than-life characters, this is a richly imagined adventure no child will be able to put down – or ever forget!

Anirudh Nistala T5

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.