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Creator / Frances Hardinge

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Frances Hardinge is a British writer who debuted with critically acclaimed Fly By Night. It was subsequently followed by Verdigris Deep (Well-Witched in America), Gullstruck Island (The Lost Conspiracy), her debut novel's sequel, Twilight Robbery (Fly Trap), A Face Like Glass, Cuckoo Song (2014), The Lie Tree (2015), A Skinful of Shadows (2017), and Deeplight (2019).

Tropes in Frances Hardinge's Works Include:

  • Action Girl: Laylow in Twilight Robbery.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The list of Clent's crimes in Fly Trap comes off as an elongated version.
    Eponymous Clent- Wanted for thirty-nine cases of fraud, counterfeiting, selling, and circulating lewd and unlicensed literature, claiming to be the impecunious son of a duke, impersonating a magistrate, impersonating a horse doctor, breach of promise, forty-seven moonlit flits without payment of debts, robbing shrines, fleeing from justice, stealing pies from windows and small furniture from inns, fabricating the Great Palthrop Horse Plague for purposes of profit, operating a hurdy-gurdy without a license.
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  • Beneath the Earth: Caverna is of the urban variety in A Face Like Glass.
  • Constantly Curious: Most of Hardinge's young heroines have this trait in common, including Mosca of Fly By Night, Neverfell of A Face Like Glass and Faith of The Lie Tree.
  • Daddy's Girl: In The Lie Tree Faith's most prominent characteristic is admiration of her father. She desperately seeks his approval as a daughter and fellow scientist, which is nigh impossible when she's living in a man's world. After he dies, Faith uses the titular tree's power with two goals in mind: Restore her father's good name and find his killer. Accepting her father was far from perfect is what allows Faith to grow into her own person.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A lot of people in both Gullstruck Island and Fly By Night. The backstory of the Lady Tamarind is especially a Tear Jerker.
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  • Doorstopper: Four of the five books so far published are over two and a half inches thick, these being Fly by Night, Gullstruck Island, Twilight Robbery, and A Face Like Glass.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At the beginning of Fly Trap, when Mosca goes to a remote barn with some stranger in order to read for him and his friends and promptly gets abducted, taken out of town and forced to do some things she's not so crazy about, the whole situation reads like... something else. The narration doesn't help:
    She would charge this man and his friends too much, of course, but how much was too much? How much would cause them to walk away in disgust instead of haggling?
    • This, however, has nothing on one of the scenes in A Skinful of Shadows - namely, in chapter 19. "She was being held open, so that it was easier for ghosts to get in" and everything that follows. Jesus. It doesn't help at all that almost all of the ghosts are explicitly stated to be of men.
  • Fantastic Racism: A unique case is presented in Fly By Night, as it has nothing to do with races. When a child is born, they are given a Meaningful Name in honour of whatever Beloved (saint) is sacred to that day or hour. However, many Beloveds are considered superior to others, and people named for them are usually deemed more blessed for it.
    • The town of Toll in Twilight Robbery takes the prejudice Up to Eleven, as residents with either unsavoury or just less than stellar Beloveds as patrons not only live and work as second-class citizens, but are not permitted to exist during daylight hours, and must hide themselves indoors until night.
  • Female Misogynist: Faith's Fatal Flaw in The Lie Tree is that while she does at least consciously see the folly of misogyny, she sees herself as an exception to the foolishness and vapidity of other women because of the environment in which she grew up in. It sends her on quite a few false leads and completely blinds her to the real villain, Agatha, until it's almost too late. Near the end of the book, she's practically kicking herself for falling into the same prejudices that she's been exploiting the whole story.
  • Freudian Excuse: The villain of The Lie Tree, Agatha Winterbourne, killed Faith's father in vengeance for him stealing her discovery and killing her husband.
  • Gambit Pileup: She seems to be fond of this trope. As an example, there are no fewer than five different factions, with a minimum of five different plots, though Fly by Night - and that's not even counting the two main characters. Or the goose.
  • Government Conspiracy: Common in Hardinge's writing, especially The Lost Conspiracy.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Quite a few people through Fly by Night assume that Mosca and Clent are together. As in, not platonically. May be historically appropriate, but still, ew.
  • Humans Are Bastards: In the middle of The Lie Tree, Faith begins to think this way under the influence of the tree's disturbing visions. She compares humanity to rats some village children are forcing to fight for sport, concerned only with survival from eating each other. She gets over this outlook after a near death experience in the climax, since being "just blood and bone" doesn't explain how happy breathing fresh air and seeing the sunshine makes her.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: In The Lost Conspiracy. The main characters especially seem to think that any old pigeons can be used to send messages, although this confusion is justified; they never actually use pigeons to send messages.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Pick any novel of short story by her, and there'll be one.
  • Kidnapping Bird of Prey: Eagles mentioned on the coast of the Lace.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Are the volcanoes in The Lost Conspiracy sentient? Hathin survives the climbs up three volcanoes, possibly because of the mediation ritual she performs for them (finding a white flower on the King of Fans, giving it to Sorrow, and taking ash from Sorrow to Lord Spearhead). The Ashwalker almost dies when he disturbs the flower she gives to Sorrow.
  • Perpetual Smiler: The Lace tribe in The Lost Conspiracy. Other people frequently find this disconcerting.
  • Shout-Out/Genius Bonus: In Fly Trap, Mosca learns that her Beloved (the god, in whose hour she was born) is considered a negative character, her Beloved Palpitattle being the emperor of flies. You know whose name translates to "Lord of Flies"? Beelzebub.
  • Stylistic Suck: Mosca may be starving for words, but she's still a terrible writer, as her letter to Lady Tamarind proves.
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