Dear FCC: I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from ALA Midwinter in January. I think I've almost made it through my ARC pile...
Reader Gut Reaction: One thing I love about Frances Hardinge's books is that they're full of delightful cleverness without being overly or gratuitously clever. This volume is no exception, as the author takes the fascinating naming conventions of Mosca's world and works them into the plot in a most ingenious way. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say this: Mosca learns the hard way that prejudices that seem superficial may in fact run irrationally deep. What's in a name, indeed? Evidently quite a lot, if you were unfortunate enough to be born during the hour of Goodman Palpitattle, the lord of the flies.
Concerning Character: Although there is zero shortage of action and adventure in this book—kidnapping, daring escapes, outlandish plots, and so forth—in a way the entire plot revolves around the idea of character: specifically, what one's character really means and whether it's predetermined or something that you earn. In terms of of specific characters, Mosca is the plucky, smart-mouthed and adventuresome moppet fans will remember from the first book, and her relationship with Clent is that of a mentor and apprentice, with just a hint, perhaps, of an uncle indulging his favorite niece. Neither one wants to be vulnerable, so it's all hints and subtext here and there, but Hardinge makes it clear that they're fond of one another, beyond the fact that they depend on each other for their survival in an increasingly hostile environment.
Recommended for Fans Of...: Stories about plucky young heroines, like the Wolves books by Joan Aiken and the Theodosia books by R.L. LaFevers.
Authorial Asides: You all probably know I am a huge Frances Hardinge fan. I particularly thought that The Lost Conspiracy, the book she released just prior to this one, was brilliant, and I'm consistently amazed at her ability to bring an unusual setting to vivid, believable life. Fly Trap is out now in hardcover.
You can find Fly Trap at an independent bookstore near you!