Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

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Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Mary Esther Judy
Reviewed by Mary Esther Judy
Summary: Mosca Mye is on the run across the Fractured Realm. In a world governed by the dangerous Locksmiths Guild and rife with criminals, the only ones she can trust are a silver-tongued conman, Eponymous Clent, and Saracen, her goose. Mosca could be in real trouble.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0330418263

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The Fractured Realm is a country existing in an uneasy peace. Each province is ruled by the craftsmen guilds which hold ultimate control, an ineffective Duke, and citizens who honour a multitude of demi-gods, 'The Beloved', who haunt them their entire life. This is the world Mosca Mye inhabits. An orphan, Mosca is fostered by her aunt and uncle, who think little of her and use her as a bookkeeper due to her unique, and quite illegal, ability to read and write. She runs away the night she burns their mill to the ground.

This single act of accidental arson propels twelve-year old Mosca Mye into a world of thieves, cut-throats and highwaymen. What follows is an amazing, riotous and highly dangerous journey. She is accompanied by Eponymous Clent - a noted thief, liar and conman whom she has convinced to take her on as his assistant - and her faithful, yet homicidal, goose, Saracen, who always gets the better of everyone. Together, they make their way toward Mandelion in search of the forbidden school Mosca has heard of all of her young life. Along the way, they encounter scandal, murder, a search for an illegal printing press, and a secret plot to destroy the government.

'Fly By Night' is not necessarily an easy read, but it is more than worth the effort. The author's love of language and its use, an astounding ability to create and develop characters, relationships and a unique world give a rich and eloquent story. Language governs the structure and form of the book itself. The language used is fairly complex and can cause frustration. But it is set so well in context there is little difficulty understanding the meaning of unfamiliar words. Some readers may have difficulty with 'Fly By Night', due to certain historical references with which they may not be familiar. Having said that, the adventure and drama is so compelling that the reader is pulled through the book with excitement and humour.

Mosca Mye is bright, rebellious, empathetic, and can be calculating. She is also highly likeable. Eponymous is sly, cunning, and yet there is a genuine caring and generosity about him. And Saracen, the goose is a true superhero. Bold and brave and not willing to become anyone's dinner, Saracen is always there to save the day when it looks like all is truly lost. The remaining cast of characters which surround Mosca offer the best and the worst of human nature, touching everything in between. In short, Fly By Night is truly unique, completely gripping and absolutely wonderful. Hardinge has crafted beautifully textured world, with its own geography, religion and politics completely consistent and logical to that world throughout the story. This is an absolute must-read. First published in 2005, this is one I return to again and again.

If this book appeals, then do read the sequel, Twilight Robbery, or Gullstruck Island and Verdigris Deep, all by the same author. You might also really enjoy Stravaganza: City of Secrets (and the other Stravaganza books) by Mary Hoffman.

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Buy Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge at


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