Faith Sunderly and her family have just moved to the remote island of Vane. They fled their former home in Kent when Faiths reverend father made a discovery at a dig site that was not received well. Faith is a 14 year old well-mannered young lady on the outside. On the inside Faith is far more interested in science than housework and she has a ton of scientific questions she is dying to find the answers too.
When her father is found dead on the island, Faith knows it was no accident and she is determined to find his killer. Though Faith has a few ideas of who would hurt her father, she has no proof. Faith begins to run out of time proving the murder. In a desperate fit, she begins to rummage through her father’s belongings and discovers his biggest secret of all, a tree. Of course this is not an ordinary old tree, this is the sole reason Faiths father was murdered. This tree has the ability to reveal a truth to you, but in exchange you must tell it a lie. Once you tell it a lie, and the lie takes hold in the community, the tree produces a red fruit. Eat the fruit and it will send you into an opiate dream-like state where the truth is finally revealed. The tree must remain in very dark conditions though and to properly care for it, Faith has to sneak out in the middle of the night and somehow avoid leading her father’s killer directly to the tree.
I ran across this book at BEA this year and immediately fell in love with the cover and the premise. I admit I did have a little trouble getting into the book, it starting out a bit slow for me. I was immediately annoyed with Faiths father and his nonchalance toward her; Harding portrays the sexism of the time in almost every chapter. It’s completely accurate but frustrating none-the-less! I love Faith and her hunger for knowledge; her fierce persistence made her a woman to be feared in her time. I did feel like the ending was somewhat abrupt, maybe I just wanted more. I do think this could easily be made into a series, I’d love to know more about what happened to Faith!
To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…
Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.
In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.