Ahoy there me mateys! I was in a mood where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read. Then I read Matey Nicky’s review of this book where she said:
I have to admit that, primed by Untitled Goose Game, I was on Saracen’s side in all of this. In any given scene, at any given stopping point, my main concern was where is Saracen??? (People who watched me live-tweeting my binge of this book can attest to that. Several tweets demanding to know where the goose was.) Part of the reason I was on Saracen’s side is that things get a bit twisty. Who do you trust? By the last hundred pages, I only trusted Saracen.
I have enjoyed this author’s work in the past and the goose was the right incentive to immediately pick up this debut work of hers. I loved it.
This book is twisty and just so much fun. It immediately captured me attention with the prologue where there is a discussion on what to name the new baby. She was born on the name day of Goodman Palpitattle also known as “He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butter Churns.” The midwife , Celery, is clearly concerned about the timing of her birth and the importance of names given her own. But she is overruled and the baby gets named after the housefly – Mosca.
Like always, the world building is just exquisite. The plot follows poor Mosca as she tries to escape her horrible hamlet and just gets into more and more trouble. Her problem? She can read and reading is dangerous. Whether it is the names of the gods or the lovely descriptions of the world or Mosca’s opinions about what she sees, the word play in this book was delightful. Like Eponymous Clem, the stranger that Mosca gets involved with. Or this description of a path:
The path was a troublesome, fretful thing. It worried that it was missing a view of the opposite hills and insisted on climbing for a better look. Then it found the breeze uncommonly chill and ducked back among the trees. It suddenly thought it had forgotten something and doubled back, then realized that it hadn’t and turned about again. At last it struggled free of the pines, plumped itself down by the riverside, complained of its aching stones and refused to go any farther. A sensible, well-trodden track took over.
Just lovely. The plot is a bit convoluted at times but I didn’t care because I loved the world and the characters. I anxiously needed to know what happened next (and where the goose was!). This book could be read as a standalone but the author did write a sequel six years later. I am certainly going to be picking up a copy. Arrr!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:
Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye hasn’t got much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, Saracen, who’ll bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn’t know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life.
Enter Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking con man who seems to love words nearly as much as Mosca herself. Soon Mosca and Clent are living a life of deceit and danger — discovering secret societies, following shady characters onto floating coffeehouses, and entangling themselves with crazed dukes and double-crossing racketeers. It would be exactly the kind of tale Mosca has always longed to take part in, until she learns that her one true love — words — may be the death of her.
“Fly by Night” is astonishingly original, a grand feat of the imagination from a masterful new storyteller.
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