Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad. Mosca Mye was born at a time sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns, which is why her father insisted on naming her after the housefly. He also insisted on teaching her to read—even in a world where books are dangerous, regulated things. Eight years later, Quillam Mye died, leaving behind an orphaned daughter with an inauspicious name and an all-consuming hunger for words. Trapped for years in the care of her cruel Uncle Westerly and Aunt Briony, Mosca leaps at the opportunity for escape, though it comes in the form of sneaky swindler Eponymous Clent. As she travels the land with Clent and her pet goose, Saracen, Mosca begins to discover complicated truths about the world she inhabits and the power of words.
Rating: DNF @ 34% (2 Stars)
Having read Frances Hardinge’s book The Lie Tree and finding it a dark and exciting book, I wanted to read more of her work. I requested this on NetGalley before realizing it was actually an older title that was being rereleased, but that didn’t bother me. Fly By Night is the story of a headstrong girl, Mosca Mye, who shouldn’t know how to read but does and becomes something of a spy in a time when the wrong book has the potential to twist your brain and her world’s political system is in continual turmoil. Plus, there was the promise of a pet goose, a unique pet in literature.
Each chapter was titled with a letter of the alphabet in the vein of “A is for Arson” and “H is for High Treason”. I thought this was neat and I made it as far as the end of “I is for Informer” before I realized that this book was not going to be a good experience for me.
The first couple of chapters were interesting and the action was fairly even keeled, but things started getting out of balance quickly. The language was getting unbearable, like it was an epic fantasy meant for adults that was trying to make itself more appropriate for children. It wasn’t that the material was inappropriate, it was the flowery descriptions and the making something out of nothing. I got bored very quickly and while I wanted to finish this book and gave it my very best effort, it was when I arrived at 34% that I realized I did not care about what was happening or to whom.
I’m not sure I can say whether or not the middle grade audience would actually like this or not. It feels like it was trying too hard to be two completely different things and that it could have been great if it had settled on one. I’m not convinced it would’ve been a good adult fantasy, which is how the writing felt it was leaning, but a solid middle grade fantasy was a definitive possibility if it were curbed in.
I’ll give this author another chance as I did enjoy another of her novels, but no more in this particular series.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.