Children · Frances Hardinge · Stand Alone

Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge


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 ( 



So I picked this book up from the local used bookstore. After reading the summary I thought that I would really enjoy this book. However, I can say that this is not quite what I would call fantasy. It would fall more under an adventure/mystery story in my opinion. There are no mythical creatures or magic or anything really fantasy related, which I am so used to in fantasy novels and that is what I have come to enjoy.

That being said, I only give this novel three stars, not because it was a bad book, but just because it wasn’t  too interesting and wasn’t what I expected. It is a lot different than other books I have read.

The story was very interesting, yet possibly a little too complex for younger readers. There is a city called Mandelion, which is being run by a parliament, but is really run by the various guilds within the city who all have their own responsibilities.  It was difficult to figure out how all the guilds interacted among each other, their responsibilities, and who were the good/bad guys. There is also a Beloved for each day/night of the year and whatever day the child was born they would be named after that Beloved. Mosca is born under “Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns” and so she was named Mosca, which is Spanish for fly. I thought this was very different and also kind of confusing with all the different names of the Beloved and what the represent. Additionally, there are rules against reading anything that does not have the right seal and is not approved by the Company of Stationers. All written material is controlled by them, so no one else is allowed to print anything. The story revolves around people wanting to be able to read, write, and learn, but not being able to!

I didn’t enjoy the plot too much just because it was a little too complex for a children’s book and too political for my taste. However, I did like the idea of the book, just not how it was executed.


The characters are great! I really enjoyed Mosca and her goose is awesome! I thought Mosca was a great character. She learned to read from her father and wants to read everything she can find. However, since most material is banned, there isn’t very much that is interesting. She really has a passion for reading and wanting to learn, which is a great character in a book for younger children. She also doesn’t always do the right thing, but does what she believes to be right. I thought she was a terrific character.

I also liked Eponymous Clent. I wasn’t ever sure if he was really a bad or good person and if he would ever end up harming Mosca. He also loves words and reading, so he is a great companion for Mosca as she escapes from her uncle to go to Mandelion.


The writing in the book was fantastic! I loved how it was written and some of the words used are great for young adults to build their vocabulary. I know I had to look some of them up!

Overall Thoughts

Even though I didn’t enjoy it I know for sure that others will, especially if you like reading books about books or reading. This would be a great book for older children, young adults or adults who love fiction, mystery, adventure stories, or politics. If you really like fantasy and don’t like other genres much, then I wouldn’t suggest reading this book. Do give it a try if it sounds interesting to you! If you do like it there is a sequel! It is a great story, but just not a book for me, which is why I only give it 3 stars.

My rating: 3/5 stars!

View this book on Amazon and Goodreads!

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One thought on “Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

  1. I rate my books on rereadability too. Someone was just asking me about good con artist books. Used bookstores rock! Sounds like some good if confusing world building. I like more fantasy in my books too.


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