Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review of Fly Trap by Frances Hardinge

Hardinge, Frances.  Fly Trap.  Harper, 2011.

The streets of my town are covered with layer upon layer of memories.  I've lived here most of my life, and as I walk, run, bike and drive through the Venice streets, I somehow become simultaneously all the different versions and ages of Eva who were here before me. 

Cities within cities, cities layered upon cities - there is something intensely intriguing about two or more locales existing in the same place at the same time.  Neil Gaiman explores the concept in many of his books, including Coraline.  China Mieville is similarly fascinated - just check out the enthralling The City & the City, or his YA novel Un Lun Dun.

In Fly Trap (sequel to Fly by Night), the town of Toll is really two towns in one - Toll-by-day and Toll-by-night.  At dusk, the citizens of daytime Toll scurry into their homes and bolt their doors, not daring to come out until dawn.  In fact, they couldn't even if they wanted to - their doors have been locked from the outside as well, and entire facades of buildings shifted so that the daylight doors are blocked while the night-time doors are revealed.  Then it's time for the the nightlings to come out to conduct their business.  The nightlings live in the cracks, hollows, and left-over spaces carved out from the daytime dwellings - and never do they see their own city by daylight.

Our 12-year-old heroine Mosca Mye, black-eyed and ferret-faced, is a true nighttime child, whether she likes it or not, thanks to the Beloved whose hour she was born in (Beloveds are like minor gods, and each has its sacred hours in the year).  As such, she is uniquely able, with her companion Eponymous Clent, to scrabble in the nasty crevasses of Toll in order to unearth plots and save the world (or at least Toll - or okay, her own skin if nothing else).

Mosca doesn't have much comfort or security in her life.  She's homeless and townless - though not friendless, as she's got Clent and of course her fearsome goose Saracen for companionship.  And Mosca is quite fierce herself, a true survivor.  But I just yearn for her to have a mama to hug her and love her and feed her warm meals.

Frances Hardinge is a wondrous writer.  From Fly by Night to Well-Witched to The Lost Conspiracy, her books are full meals, aromatic and filling.  And I do think that the next time I lope down a Venice street, I'll be imagining Mosca Mye headed down that same street, clogs clopping determinedly against the sidewalk and pipe clamped firmly between her teeth.

Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.

1 comment:

  1. I am terribly excited to read this book, as I adored FLY BY NIGHT and WELL-WITCHED. Glad to hear you dug it!