The Captain’s Log – the lie tree (Frances Hardinge)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This be the first book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list.  I have wanted to read this book for years and was so glad I finally did.  I think that overall I liked this book even though I had major problems with the plot.

First things first, I absolutely loved the lie tree itself.  I adored how it worked.  I adored its creepiness.  I adored the mystery surrounding it.  It was just darn cool.  The tree is definitely what kept me reading.  I just had to know more about it.  Ultimately, I was extremely satisfied with how the tree portion of the plot turned out even if I still have unanswered questions!

One of the other things I loved about this book was the time period.  The juxtaposition of belief in God versus dealing with the discoveries in science and how that reflects on mankind’s place in the world was one of the central themes in this book.  An archaeology dig and fossil discussions were used to illustrate these points and as I dig archaeology, I loved the ideas around the topic.  I would have liked even more of the excavations themselves to have been explored in the book but alas that wouldn’t have been relevant to the plot.  This book comes down firmly in favour of science and not God, so more religious readers may not be down with that.

In addition to archaeology, the book also has a heavy use of the development of photographs as plot points.  This was the time of post-mortem photos of deceased family members.  It is rather morbid to the modern sensibility but during the period of the book the practice was beginning to thrive.  I loved how the photos were used in this book and the technology discussions involved.

So with all of these fun things aside, the major problem was the far-fetched nature of the plot.  The main character is Faith Sunderly.  Faith is in the transition period between childhood and adult responsibilities.  Being a girl in 1860 is no picnic.  Faith’s family is also horrible too.  Her father is abusive and crazy.  Her mother is conniving and self-centered.  So much of this plot revolved around the fact that Faith runs wild on the island.  I can buy a little of that because of the messed up family dynamics.  But seriously, with there being servants in the household and Faith’s little brother being put under her charge, Faith should not have been able to run amok and not be missed.  I just found this part implausible given the era and circumstances and was annoyed with how it played out.  Also Faith’s father worship was creepy given his abuse and lying and negligence.

The murder mystery aspects of the plot were laughable.  The author tried to use Faith’s naivete as an excuse for why she didn’t catch on to who the murderer was.  And yet in the next breath, Faith’s cleverness and cunning are lauded.  And the final reveal of the murderers and reasons for the killing were not to me taste at all.  Then there were the odd things like a harrowing trip through the waves in a rowboat that almost ends in disaster and yet a 14 year old girl with no experience makes the same trip multiple times by herself.  Nope not buying it.  There are many other problems that I can’t get into without spoilers.

So in short, I enjoyed most of the writing style, Faith’s character in general, Faith’s interactions with her brother, the technology, the tree, and the time period.  I was not a fan of how the plot unfolded and had trouble suspending me disbelief for the majority of the plot points.  Cool world-building kept me reading.  I am glad I finally gave this one a shot even if the book was unsatisfying on the whole.  The lie tree was worth it.  Arrr!

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:

To visit the author’s website go to:

Frances Hardinge – Author

To buy the book go to:

the lie tree – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

40 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – the lie tree (Frances Hardinge)

  1. I’m sorry this book didn’t quite work out for you, but controversial reads make for wonderful reviews.
    I recall Amanda’s review of this a few years ago– she loved it. And while she wrote a powerful review, I wasn’t as intrigued. Confusion and controversy make for interesting writing. ) You have completely intrigued me, and this isn’t the sort of book I’d normally pick up.

    Have you read any other books by Hardinge? Either way, will you read more of her works?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read any of her other works but I do think I will give her another shot. The annoyances were there but the concepts were cool. And the writing was good. I did read Amanda’s review and was glad she loved it. I don’t know if I would recommend this to anyone since it is so odd but would certainly be interested in getting yer view on it should ye read it. The lie tree is just so cool and creepy.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly, I’ll probably pass due to the creep factor. I don’t particularly like to read creepy books. I barely can read rising dread!

        Odd books are always challenging to recommend. I feel like I struggle to identify book recommendations for those I know intimately, let alone people who I only know through blogging. Perhaps that would be a great list some day — Books I Love But Cannot Think Who To Recommend Them To. XD I mean, it might spark some interesting conversation at least.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I had forgotten about the creepiness avoidance. True this one likely wouldn’t work for ye in that case. I had odd books on me anniversary post like that. I want to recommend them but they are so weird that I don’t know who should read them. Maybe I will do a post like that one day. I certainly have more than those five on the list. All these bloggers are giving me such fun ideas to post about. I have a two or three post section on series that I am working on at the moment but it is slow going so I am not sure when they will be finished 🙂
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, creepy books are not my jam. XD

        You should totally do a post like that some day! I’d love to see who has read the books you don’t know who to recommend to – perhaps that will give you an idea of the sort of person who might enjoy them?

        Writing about series is often time-consuming. Take your time and make it good,


  2. I’m so happy to see someone else read this one! I read this book back in 2016, and really really enjoyed it! I am not disputing your issues with the book at all, in fact you are so right. There was just something about this story that sucked me in though. Have you read any of Frances Hardinge’s other books?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not read any of the author’s other works but I do think I want to. Have ye? It’s funny that the lie tree is so mixed for me. I literally go back and forth over whether I like it or not. I am very glad that ye enjoyed this one. Arrr!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.