It’s hard to believe Frances Hardinge’s Fly by Night is now over 10 years old. Originally released in 2005, here Kids Book Crew member Ruth McInerney takes a look at this fantasy fiction novel for readers aged 10+.
Fly By Night is an oddly fascinating book that makes you scratch your head with one hand while you quickly turn the page with the other hand to read what crazy thing has happened now!
Mosca Mye is our extremely unlikely hero, aided as always by her brave and cranky goose Saracen and accompanied by the slippery schemer Eponymous Clent. Mosca has never felt like she belongs in her small, damp village, especially since her father died and she lost her only chance at learning the truth of the strange world she inhabits. So when a stranger appears in her village twisting words into wondrous yet obviously false tales, Mosca decides now is her chance to escape.
With the help of Saracen, Mosca and the wordsmith, Eponymous Clent, get out of a muddled situation and set out for the city Mandelion, only to land in a much more complicated and dangerous mess.
Ever since the rule of the fearsome Birdcatchers was ended, the balance of power in the realm has been shaky. There are many who claim the throne but real power belongs to the guilds; the Locksmiths, the Stationers and the Watermen who undermine each other at every chance they get. Mandelion is in the middle of a quiet struggle between the Duke, the Locksmiths and the Stationers for power and Mosca, Saracen and Eponymous Clent muddle their way right into the middle of the bedlam, causing a good deal of chaos themselves. But there is more going on than anyone realises and Mosca quickly finds herself jumbled up in more plots than she can count!
Mosca, Saracen and Eponymous Clent are joined by a whole host of quirky characters, including a highwayman with a constant cold, a kind-hearted accidental rebel and a wedding cake baker, while they attempt to save the day and stop Saracen biting off too many noses or breaking too many ankles.
Fly By Night is a quirky, chaotic and captivating adventure that feels a little like reading a maze; you and Mosca go down many dead-ends together before eventually finding your way to the centre. This book is suitable for 10+ and anyone who enjoys frantic chases, last-minute escapes and finding heroes in the most unlikely of people.
Kids Book Crew verdict
If you like this book you might also like: Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones.
Will appeal to readers who enjoy: Puzzles, mysteries and questioning the whys, and hows of the world.