Hello all! This month’s challenge was to read a book by an author with the same first name as you, and since I’m trying to keep super-on top of things at the moment, I set off the library early this month to pick out my book! 🙂 I looked up my name into the library catalogue to see what my options were, but was rather overwhelmed by the 20+ pages of results that it gave me… apparently Frances is quite a common name. But after trawling through what seemed like hundreds of study guides and cookbooks and books on architecture, and even one on raising chickens (which my friend tried very hard to persuade me that I wanted to read), I stumbled upon Frances Hardinge, who’d written a couple of books that were currently available at my local library – both of which looked really interesting! After much agonising, however, I finally decided on…
This book follows an 11-year-old girl called Triss, who crawls out of a river one night with no memory of how she got there, and begins to worry that she’s going mad – her dolls are speaking to her, she’s hungry all the time, she keeps waking up with leaves and dirt all over her, and her little sister, Pen, keeps insisting that she’s not the real Triss.
There’s not really much else that I can say about the story without spoiling it – and, believe me, it’s best to go into it knowing as little as possible, for maximum enjoyment – but I can say that I really, really liked it (I came very close to giving it 5 stars)! ❤ It’s not scary, exactly, but it’s super-creepy, and the mystery of what’s happening to Triss is resolved at a really nice, believable pace: Slow enough that it feels properly mysterious to the reader, but also not so slow as to begin to feel tedious. It’s nice, as well, that Triss’ understanding of events developed at about the same pace as mine, so I never felt as if I was just waiting for her to notice things that I thought were obvious. Triss’ perspective in general, actually, was really interesting – I’ve never read anything quite like it.
My favourite thing about this book, however, was its characters, and the dynamic between them, particularly in the case of Triss and Pen. You learn pretty early on that they’ve never really been able to get along, and the almost spiteful nature of their interactions rang very true, considering their family situation (Triss is spoiled and smothered by their parents, while Pen seems always to be either ignored by them, or blamed for everything that goes wrong), and also meant that it was really wonderful to see them come to understand each other more – and even begin to become friends – as the story progressed. I also really enjoyed their relationship with Violet (the former fiancée of Triss and Pen’s dead brother), when she eventually came into the story as more than just a character who showed up occasionally to cause controversy within the family, and her eventual part in the story’s climax was brilliant.
So, to sum up (and I feel like I’ve said this a lot): Interesting – really interesting – and very different from most of what’s out there. Would definitely recommend. 😀
[Find out more about the Library Scavenger Hunt by following this link!]