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Twilight Robbery by Frances Hardinge


The Blurb On The Back:

As dusk approaches the good people of Toll-by-day slam shut their doors and tremble ... It’s time to discover deadly Toll-by-night – a very different place! And orphan Mosca Mye is trapped there, with only a murderous goose and a war-crazed dandy to help her.



Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent fell on hard times after leaving Mandelion. Thanks to Mosca’s homicidal pet goose, Saracan, attacking local villagers and the Stationer’s Guild disavowing Clent so he can no longer get paid to write, Clent’s in debtor’s gaol. To get him out Mye sells her skills as a reader but when she picks the wrong client, they all get drawn into a plot to kidnap the daughter of the mayor of Toll.

Seeing the chance to pick up a reward and thanks to the intervention of old ‘friend’, Jennifer Bessel, they arrive in Toll to find it’s also fallen on hard times – charging people to both enter and leave the town. Worse, it’s split between day and night – those born in periods of time belonging to ‘bad’ saints or Goodmen and Goodwomen are forced to only leave their houses at night, while the day belongs to those born under ‘good’ saints. With only 3 days to stop the kidnap and get the reward, Clent and Mye’s plans quickly go awry and Mye soon finds herself locked in Toll-by-night where mercy is a very rare commodity ...

Hardinge’s sequel to the award winning FLY BY NIGHT is an incredibly imaginative work. Every element of the world Hardinge creates has been carefully thought through from theology to politics and even language (with many of the characters using their own slang, which is easy to follow). What’s particularly good is the absurdity of Toll’s reaction to names – caused in part by their fear that the Mandelion radicalism that led to revolution will be replicated there – and Hardinge uses it to flesh out the theology underpinning the society and Mye’s budding atheism.

Mye and Clent are great characters – neither is adverse to performing amoral acts, yet Mye has an underlying sensitivity to injustice and a desire to set things right and both have a loyalty to each other that leads them to do good things accidentally.

However the book does feel overwritten at times, which results in the pace dragging at critical times and one of the key plot twists is telegraphed far too early. It’s also a long book (over 500 pages) and at times you feel the length.

All in all, it is an interesting book and worth a look, but for me it is not up there with Hardinge’s best work (although I remain a fan).

The Verdict:

This is a richly written, vivid and imaginative sequel to the award winning middle grade book FLY BY NIGHT. You don’t need to have read FLY BY NIGHT to follow this although it may help explain the relationship between some of the characters. However it is a long book and the pace drags at time while at times it feels a little over-written. However I remain a big fan of Hardinge’s work and for its faults the sheer creativity here makes it worth the time.

TWILIGHT ROBBERY will be released in the UK on 4 March 2011. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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