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Literature / Fly by Night Series

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A children book series by Frances Hardinge consisting of two books about the (mis)adventures of one Mosca Mye, a twelve-year-old girl with a passion for books and intrigues, her not-so-willing accomplice Eponymous Clent, a conman/travelling poet, and a goose named Saracen, whose thirst for blood more than compensates for Clent's unwillingness.

  • Fly by Night (2005)
  • Twilight Robbery (US: Fly Trap) (2011)

Not to be confused with Nightflyers, a 2018 Syfy miniseries based on a novella from George R. R. Martin. Or with 1997's film The Night Flier, based on the story of the same name from Stephen King.

This series provides examples of:

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    Both novels 
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Quillam Mye publicly denounced both the Beloved and the Birdcatcher's Heart of Consequence in his essays, but it was his greatest hope that, without Gods to kneel to, people would be free to think for themselves and take control of their destinies. After learning about her father's atheism, Mosca begins to appreciate the concept of free will without fully abandoning the Beloved.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance:
    • Mosca's Animal Motif is the unremarkable, overlooked housefly, and she has pasty skin, black hair and eyes, and wears drab clothes.
    • Lady Tamarind from Fly By Night is clean and powdered to the point of being immaculately white, but the scar on her cheek spoils her perfection like a crack in a mask. Quite fitting for a woman whose beauty and nobility is only skin deep.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: There are deceivers worse than Eponymous Clent in the Fractured Realm.
    • Linden Kohlrabi in Fly by Night presents himself to Mosca as a gentleman and dedicated to snuffing out evil. In the penultimate chapter, Mosca realizes he's actually a cold-blooded Birdcatcher fanatic.
    • Beamabeth, the mayor's adopted daughter from Twilight Robbery, is a greedy, manipulate shrew underneath her mask of sweet pampered woman.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: Most of the characters, including our trio of protagonists, are different levels of jerkass, even though most of the time it's Played for Laughs.
  • Brainy Brunette: Mosca, in an intuitive, street-smart way.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them: Neither Mosca nor Clent really "like" each other, but Mosca is a penniless orphan with nowhere else to go, and her knack for finding trouble makes her more valuable as a spy for Clent than he's willing to admit.
  • Central Theme: Two of them; First is the power of words and names, and second is that faith in oneself trumps faith in Gods or fate.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Captain Clam Blythe the infamous highwayman appears early in the book as a way for the protagonists to meet Lady Tamarind, and to showcase Clent's ability to talk his way out of trouble. He's actually the leader of La Résistance in Mandelion.
  • Children Are Innocent: Downplayed for Mosca; Although being orphaned, used as an indentured servant and accountant for her uncle, and thrust into the harsh, cutthroat world made her Wise Beyond Their Years, she is not so jaded that she cannot believe in superstitions and fairy stories. It's not so much "Children Are Innocent" as "Children Are Prone to Flights of Fancy."
  • Con Man: Clent's line of work in a nutshell. He sells himself as The Bard or a ghost writer for inarticulate folk, but as Mosca points out in their first meeting, he makes money off lies.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: One sure way to identify a Locksmith is that they wear gloves at all times to hide the key-shaped brand burned into their hand.
  • Constantly Curious: Mosca's most defining characteristic is her desire to learn, and her hunts for answers get her out of trouble as much as they get her into trouble.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Averted; by the author's own admission, the cult of the Beloved was inspired by the cult of Christian saints in Romania, but the religion of the Realm is most definitely not a representation/allegory of Christianity. If anything, it's just straight-up paganism.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A lot of people, including Mosca, who nevertheless seems to take it in stride. The Backstory of the Lady Tamarind is especially a Tear Jerker.
  • Drama Queen: Eponymous can belt out passionate soliloquies at the drop of a hat, especially when he senses it can get him some pity. Fortunately, he knows there is a time and a place to put a lid on it.
  • Empathy Pet: Mosca's nowhere near as violent as Saracen, but they are equally bad-tempered and grumpy.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Both the Birdcathers and the Locksmiths. Lady Tamarind is one of the last Birdcathers and their mastermind. The Locksmiths seem to be an all-men gang at first, but then we learn that Goshawk hires ladies, too.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Subverted; Saracen will sample anything from clothes to wax, but he won't actually eat anything not edible for a goose.
  • Fantastic Racism: A unique case is presented in the series, as it has nothing to do with races. When a child is born, they are given a Meaningful Name in honour of whatever Beloved is sacred to that day or hour. However, many Beloveds are considered superior to others, and people born under them are usually deemed more blessed for it. The town of Toll in Twilight Robbery takes the prejudice up to eleven, as residents named after either unsavoury or just less than stellar Beloveds not only have to wear badges proclaiming their patron to the world and live and work as second-class citizens, but are not permitted to exist during daylight hours, and must hide themselves indoors until night. The fact that it is totally nonsensical is, of course, the point.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Fractured Realm is meant to resemble 17th century England. There are also mentions of travelling "gypsy" girls in the Realm and the Seissian islands, which sound like a representation of Iran/Turkey/Arab lands or some blend thereof.
  • Fantasy Pantheon
  • Feathered Fiend: Saracen, of type A, although his loyalty to Mosca qualifies him for Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Foil:
    • There's one to Mosca in each novel, Lady Tamarind in the first one, Beamabeth Marlebourne in the second. Both are the main antagonists.
    • Aramai Goshawk, master of the Locksmiths Guild, is one to Mosca's late father, Quillam Mye. This subtly makes him one to Mosca as well, considering how similar the father and daughter are said to be.
  • Funetik Aksent: A plethora of British Accents. For example, Mosca has the gruff, working-class East End accent, which is only exacerbated by her generous use of Thieves' Cant.
  • Gambit Pileup: The author 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. The sequel is no slouch in this department, either.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • In Fly by Night, Halk Partridge found the Birdcathers' printing press by accident while looking for Mosca, so Kohlrabi knifed him.
    • In Twilight Robbery, two attempts are made on the life Levertia Leap, the midwife of Toll-by-Night, because only she knows Beamabeth Marlebourne is the real Luck of Toll. Beamabeth herself orders the hits, as according to town traditions, the Luck must live locked away in the clock tower.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Low Fantasy: So much so, that there is no magic at all, just the occasional bit of weird mechanics.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Mosca and Clent, definitely. Laylow and Brand Appleton, probably.
  • Master of Unlocking: The emphasis on "Master" is why the Locksmiths Guild is The Dreaded. As they build all the locks and strongboxes in the Realm, they always have the means to open every single one of them; Nothing is safe from the Locksmiths.
  • Odd Job Gods: The Cult of the Beloveds has hundreds of gods for every job imaginable. There are Beloveds responsible for the Sun rising, giving sweet dreams, protecting boats from sinking, and keeping vegetables fresh. Palpitattle, the Beloved Mosca is named for, has the especially odd job of keeping flies away from butter and preserves.
  • Punny Name: Several of the Beloved. Highlights include Asheneye of Hearths, Sparkentress of Bonfires, Trywhy of Scheming, and Whenyouleast of Reunions.
  • Purple Prose: Aside from the character Eponymous Clent, for whom this is practically a native tongue, the writing style of this series is extensively flowery. Justified, as a recurring theme is the power of words and names.
  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: While trying to hide their identities, Mosca and Clent will usually pretend to be Uncle and Niece.
  • Running Gag:
    • Saracen getting separated from Mosca and ending up in his own misadventure. In Fly by Night, he cows a crew of smugglers and commandeers their boat, and in Twilight Robbery, he attacks a pastor, creating a rumour that the village chapel is haunted.
    • Clent's attempts to either get rid of the goose or to eat him.
  • Sissy Villain: Downplayed, but still present with Goshawk. He has famously small and tender white hands and wears a chatelaine, like the rest of the Locksmiths - chatelaines were normally an attribute of housewives.
  • Sugary Malice: Clent's "friend," Jennifer Bessel, to match her appearance of a cute, plump women, speaks with a motherly sweetness and addresses everyone with cutesy pet names, even when threatening them.
  • The Syndicate: After they realized a Master of Unlocking makes for the best thief, the Locksmith Guild became the synonymous with the criminal underworld. The Guild Master Aramai Goshawk is, for all intents and purposes, The Don.
  • Thieves' Cant: Used by a number of rogues through the books. By Fly Trap, Mosca is canting like a pro.
  • Thinking Tic: Mosca likes to chew on the mouthpiece of a smoking pipe when in deep thought. She originally used her late father's, but after losing it, she gets a new one.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Mosca's "Chirfugging" stands out.
  • Wild Card: Jennifer Bessel's a semi-retired thief whose only allegiance is to herself, but she will offer her services to whoever pays the best, including the Locksmiths.

    Fly by Night 
  • And the Adventure Continues: Invoked by Mosca in the epilogue, when given the choice between remaining Clent's secretary or leaving him to pursue a quiet life.
    Mosca: "True stories seldom have endings. I don’t want a happy ending, I want more story."
  • Anti-Villain: As leader of the Stationers Guild, Mabwick Toke enforces censorship, and his guild spends most of the book bashing heads in to hunt down an unregistered printing press. His motives, however, are ultimately to protect the people from another mad rising like the Birdcatchers. Since said press turned out to be for printing Birdcatcher propaganda, he had every right to want it destroyed.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Gray Mastiff, a tavern used by the Locksmiths as a meeting place.
  • Book Burning: After being terrorized by the Birdcatchers, the nation became superstitious that reading certain texts could make one go mad like them. In response, the Stationer guild placed strict limitations on the written word, and any book, newspaper, or official letter deemed capable of provoking unrest was destroyed. Quillam, Mosca's father, abandoned the guild because he couldn't abide by this. By the time of Mosca's adventures, it's gotten to the point where literacy is rare and frowned upon in the working class.
  • Boxed Crook: How Clent came to be a spy for the Stationers. After getting caught smuggling illegal books, his choice was either take the job offer or be hanged. Despite Clent's overstated sense of his skill, the Guild employed him mostly because he is very expendable and Beneath Notice; Who would believe the authority of words hired a con artist of no particular talent?
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Just to make it clear how monstrous the Birdcatchers are, they invented the punishment of "Winging" anyone born under a Beloved they had demonized; plunging needles topped with feathers into their backs until death.
  • Death by Irony: Duke Vocado drowns after a giant kite barring the image of the Twin Queens, the objects of his obsession, knocks him overboard.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Cakes gets her nickname from how she bakes the wedding cakes for the marriage house. Her real name is Dormalise Bockerby.
  • Gossip Evolution: Hilariously displayed when Clent is arrested. The constables use civilians and street kids to broadcast the news around Mandelion, but "Eponymous Clent arrested for murder of Halk Partridge" snowballs into stories like, "Radicals smuggle Beloved idols in bodies of dead birds," "Radicals invent giant cannon to shoot idols," and "Radicals melt down lead statues to pour into ears of sleeping people."
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: A couple of people assume that Mosca and Clent are together. As in, not platonically. May be historically appropriate, but still, ew.
  • Heroic Bastard: The Cakes. Her father chose to seek his fortune at sea before marrying his lover, and returned a decade later to find only his orphaned daughter. Mosca comes up with the idea to hold a ceremony that will symbolically join her father and late mother in matrimony. The "wedding" admittedly has no legal or official standing, but the Cakes is more than pleased with the thought behind it.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Everyone is terrified of Birdcathers, including the Locksmiths, who otherwise fulfill the position of The Dreaded in the Realm.
  • I Am Not Pretty: The Cakes is unhappy with her plain, sharp features and worries she will never get married because of them. Mosca assures her that she's "not ugly, just pointy." This is proven right when the Cakes and Carmine start Flirting Under Fire in the climatic battle.
  • I Just Want to Be You: Immediately after meeting Lady Tamarind, Mosca falls in love with the noblewoman as the embodiment of Wealth, Beauty, Class, and Erudition. Essentially, everything her life is lacking and what she hopes to gain. It's almost too late before Mosca realizes how misplaced her admiration is.
  • Light Is Not Good: Lady Tamarind, a religious fundamentalist, had planned to take back over the Realm.
  • Mad Love: Vocado Avourlace, the Duke of Mandelion and Lady Tamarind's brother, is hopelessly obsessed with the Twin Queens Meriel and Peri, and his sanity is rapidly declining because of it. His sister uses this to manipulate him in her conquest for control of the Realm.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: Mosca discovers Clent with the body of Captain Partridge and he makes her throw the corpse into the river. This causes Mosca, and therefore the reader, to believe the guy who wanted them both dead snuck into their room and Clent murdered him. By the time her big mouth gets Clent thrown in prison, Mosca pieces together that Partridge was already dead when Clent found him in the room. Kohlrabi killed him and planted the body to discredit Clent.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: On a small scale; Mosca flirts with the idea of spying on the Stationers for Lady Tamarind, but when Clent adamantly refuses to buy back Saracen, she finally goes through with it in a fit of anger. Naturally, Clent comes around only after Mosca comes back from posting her letter.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: This is the root of Lady Tamarind's Freudian Excuse. In an otherwise perfect childhood, she experienced fear for the first time when Vocado slapped her during one of his psychotic episodes, giving Tamarind her iconic scar. Deciding she didn't like being afraid, she would grow up to lead the faction that instills the whole Realm with fear: the Birdcatchers.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Lady Tamarind keeps a crocodile to guard her home against whoever can get past the security measures. Apparently, it was the most vicious animal she could find after various failed attempts.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Inverted. The young lawyer Pertellis teaches children how to read and write, and dictates political tracts for them to copy. One of the tracts ends with, "Oh dear, class dismissed, out of the windmill in single file, children."
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Before even meeting Clent face-to-face, Mosca has a solid idea of his personality: A scoundrel guided by self interest, but also cowardly and squeamish. Halfway through the story, she begins to fear that he has a hidden thirst for blood after the incident with Partridge's dead body. Eventually, she realizes her mistake, and that Clent is exactly who she thought he is.
  • Stylistic Suck: Mosca may be starving for words, but she's still a terrible writer, as her letter to Lady Tamarind proves.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: For a learned man, you would be hard pressed to find a soul more innocent than Hopewood Pertellis. He's a Friend to All Living Things, a lawyer who fights for the little guy, teaches underprivileged urchins simply because it's the right thing to do, and firmly believes that there is a peaceful, diplomatic solution to changing the Fractured Realm. Getting kidnapped by Locksmiths, arrested, tortured for information, and even peppered by gunfire does not stamp out his naiveté.

    Fly Trap/Twilight Robbery 
  • Accidental Hero: Seeking sanctuary in Toll-by-Night, Mosca and Saracen rush to the Leap residence, and arrive when Mistress Leap is preparing to make a house call with a father-to-be. Mosca knocks the young man over in her stampede for the front door, dropping Saracen and pushing herself and Leap into the flat. When the door is reopened, the young man has fled after Saracen apparently attacked him. The discovery of a dagger on the ground makes everyone realize the expectant father was actually a thief looking to get Leap alone and mug her. Unwittingly stopping this earns Mosca a roof over her head and some allies.
  • Action Girl: Laylow, a young smuggler brave enough to go between Day and Night. Mosca is particularly impressed by her "claw," a glove with fingertips Laylow sewed little hooks into.
  • Arranged Marriage: After her first fiancé's Beloved was reclassified and he was sent to live in Toll-by-Night, Beamabeth was quickly matched up with Sir Feldroll, the governor of Waymakem, a powerful city of the Realm. He likes Beamabeth well enough, but what Feldroll really wants is permission to move his army through Toll and across its bridge, free of charge, so they can attack the now lawless city of Mandelion before other towns can follow its example and rebel against their leaders. Beamabeth secretly wasn't interested marring Feldroll and moving into his estate in Waymakem because being adored by all of Toll felt too good, but comes around to get out of Toll before it can go to the dogs.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The list of Clent's crimes 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.
  • Auction of Evil: Mosca is abducted by Skellow early into the book because he is illiterate and needs a scribe for one of the Pawnbroker Guild's silent auctions. The objects being bidden on range from priceless antiques to royal secrets to a chance to employ assassins, but the real Evil comes from the lengths the guild goes to keep the auctions secret. Mosca watches a man get thrown down a mineshaft to his death for accidentally breaking the no talking rule.
  • Boomerang Bigot: An odd one, given the series' version of Fantastic Racism. Beamabeth was born to nightlings, but sees people with "unlucky" patron Beloveds as subhumans.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Mosca and Clent try to warn the Marlebournes about a plot to kidnap Beamabeth, the Mayor and his staff find the whole idea ridiculous. Granted the two of them have no tangible proof, but it's established clearly that the disbelief hinges on Mosca being born under lowly, treacherous Palpitattle.
  • Citadel City: Toll is not an important town, but it is built on the ruins of a castle. There are giant walls enclosing it, tight security for the two gates, and the enormous Langfeather river as a moat on one side. What's more, the town owns the only bridge crossing the river, so everyone wanting to travel south has to go through Toll.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Toll-by-Day is peaceful, welcoming and remarkably sanitary. Too bad it's hiding Toll-by-Night, and both are effectively ruled by the Locksmiths.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: After Mosca and Clent pay the fee to leave Toll with their reward for rescuing Beamabeth, their immediate reaction is to say good riddance and throw rocks at the town's walls in celebration. Then Mosca remembers that Brand, Laylow, and Paragon still need her help, so she sneaks back in.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: A common practise in Toll-by-Night is for mothers in labour to try holding in the baby, even having midwives scream and make a ruckus to scare it back into the womb, until it can be born under an auspicious Beloved's hour. This way, their children can be adopted by a dayfolk family, and have the chance to live in the Sun. Beamabeth was one such child.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    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?
    • She then becomes furious at how she has been used and spends the entire book exacting revenge on this man. It's probably no coincidence that this is also the book where Goshawk becomes a more prominent character and immediately takes an interest in Mosca.
  • The Eeyore: Welter, Levertia Leap's husband, is constantly telling his wife that aiding Mosca will end badly for them. Mistress Leap tells Mosca his attitude is not only from living nightside, but because he lost his job as a clockmaker after a new team of them was hired by the Locksmiths.
  • Fictional Holiday: The Night of Saint Yacobray, a Grim Reaper-esque Beloved who is patron to killers and rides a skeletal horse called the Clatterhorse. The traditions are vaguely similar to Halloween, as Mosca reminisces of children going door to door, asking for treats, with hobbyhorses made to look like Yacobray's steed. In Toll, however, the night is used by the Locksmiths as a creative way to extort money, with the Night townspeople leaving vegetables with coins hidden inside on their doorsteps, symbolically feeding the Clatterhorse. If the nightlings don't pay up, more than a few cabbages and potatoes go missing.
  • Gilded Cage: The top room of the clock tower where the Luck of Toll is kept. Paragon Collymoddle, the current Luck, is given expensive food and clothes, sleeps in a downy bed, and plays with Beloved idols all day, but hasn't been outside in twelve years. It's not until Mosca comes crashing down his chimney and flat out tells him what he's missing that he realizes being the Luck is not an honour but a prison sentence.
  • Grave Robbing: Early in the book, Mosca comes across a doctor who has inane theories about peoples' brains being mutated by mental illnesses, and has paid a reluctant man to dig up bodies to experiment on. Mosca uses him to get Clent out of debtors prison by claiming that Clent is her mad and terminally ill uncle, sells his brain in advance, uses the money to pay what Clent owes, and the two promptly skip town.
  • Happy Ending Override: At the end of the last book, Mosca and Clent left Mandelion after they helped the people take it from the oppressive ruling family. In Toll, Mosca learns Waymakem and other cities are now terrified of "radicals" who usurp governments, and are preparing to stomp out the freedom fighters before their own populations can follow the example. It's subverted for the most part by the ending, as Mosca's actions ensure Sir Feldroll's army is too afraid to cross Toll's unfaithful bridge and travel north, saving Mandelion from civil war.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: As the name implies, the town of Toll has steep prices for whoever enters its walls.
  • It's All About Me: This barely begins to describe Beamabeth. She orchestrates her own kidnapping to give her father incentive to give the Locksmiths complete control over Toll, just to get the lines of trade running again so she doesn't have to go without her tea and spices. When Mosca berates her with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about her charmed life is from sacrificing the lives of oppressed nightlings, Beamabeth establishes that all that matters in Toll is her happiness.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: To avoid being locked up in the clock tower to serve as Toll's new Luck, Beamabeth recklessly claims that her birth hour is incorrect, and that she was born under Palpitattle, a Beloved of lesser reputation. Without her good name, the populace that adored her, including the mayor, turn on her.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: In the final act, Clent tries to convince Mosca she cannot save Toll from the Locksmiths, stop Waymakem going to war with Mandelion, or expose Beamabeth's treachery, and they should just leave before Hell breaks loose. Mosca acknowledges the wisdom in Clent's cynicism, but refuses to believe it anyway.
  • Love Martyr: Brand Appleton, Beamabeth's former fiancé. He is convinced that they are Star-Crossed Lovers that have yet to reach their happy ending, to the point of willingness to regularly get the snot beat out of him at fight clubs to win luxuries like chocolate for her. We find out later that Beamabeth has no interest in him besides his hard-to-acquire gifts.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: After Beamabeth is kidnapped despite Clent's airtight plan to protect her, the Mayor accuses Mosca of being a conspirator, as she is the only company with a night-aligned name, and has her immediately condemned to a Hell Hole Prison.
  • Mistaken for Profound: Mayor Marlebourne and Sir Feldroll assume Mosca's letters are written in some kind of code because they are full of strange euphemisms and without basic grammar, but although Clent lets them believe so, he knows that his secretary's writing is really just that bad.
  • My Hair Came Out Green: To better search Toll-by-Night undetected, the Leaps disguise Mosca as a Fauxreigner. Only a bath in makeshift dye does not turn her hair green, but her skin. Fortunately, the people of Toll are especially uneducated and superstitious people, so it works.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The name of the Chief Clerk of the Committee of Hours is never revealed. He is referred to as "the Raspberry" because his red, blotchy face reminds Mosca of a said berry.
  • Persona Non Grata: Clent is revealed to keep a journal of places he can never, ever set foot in again, mostly because of his own schemes bitting him in the ass.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The truth about the "Luck" of Toll is a relatively mundane version of this. Whoever has the best, most majestic name in all of Toll is locked away in the top of the clock tower, so their innate good fortune will spread to the whole town. It just happens that the person with the best name is Paragon, a boy scarcely older than Mosca.
  • Psycho for Hire: This is what the mayor of Toll believes the Locksmiths to be. He learns why this is bad idea when they steal the Luck.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The dayfolk of Toll live their lives thinking of the Night people as the local bugbears. However, when fire threatens Toll in the climax, the residents of Toll-by-Day smash through locked doors and false walls to save the nightlings.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: In chapter three, after Mosca escapes Skellow and reunites with Clent in Grabely, she finds out that Saracen has been spending his unattended time haunting the local chapel and scaring the pants off a young pastor.
  • The Scottish Trope: Pretty much Toll's policy. Don't talk about what goes on after dark, don't go into detail about the Luck of Toll, don't question the curfews, and really don't acknowledge the weird jingling noises that come at dusk and dawn. Getting absolutely no answers the polite way forces Mosca and Clent to get answers the hard way.
  • 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.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: This philosophy is the reason Toll-by-Night is a moral cesspit as well as a poor slum. After the Committee of Hours decides you are a ticking time bomb unworthy of existing during the day, it's hard not to become the liar, thief, cutthroat or anarchist your Beloved intends you to be. A particularly pathetic example is Brand Appleton, who expects himself to be a radical as much as the rest of Toll but can't so much as correctly quote anti-government sermons. Rebellious Mosca refuses to let herself think this way after being exposed to it, since society has been seeing at her as a housefly all her life without her giving them a reason too.
  • There Is Another: When Mistress Leap delivered Paragon as a baby, she lied that he had been born a couple of minutes earlier, in the hours sacred to Beloved Lilyflay of Purity. With this patron, Paragon was chosen to be the Luck of Toll, but the "real" Luck is the one with the second best name: Beamabeth.
  • Tsundere: Laylow, who is about 90% Tsun and 10% Dere. She operates with a code of morals, but is cold and rough with everyone. Plus she is the only citizen in all of Toll who doesn't swoon at the mention of Beamabeth because she's in love with Brand, the fellow who wants to marry her. Brand warms up to Laylow after learning Beamabeth's true colours, which softens her up a wee bit.
  • Wealthy Ever After: Implied; When Mosca and Eponymous leave Toll at the end of the book, they are unaware that Saracen swallowed a priceless jewel that he will eventually have to cough up.