The Lie Tree won out over a very strong short list including, Sally Nicholls (An Island of Our Own), Hayley Long (Sophie Someone) and Andrew Norris (Jessica's Ghost).
The Lie Tree is based on one unique idea: what if your lies gave you the ability to reveal other peoples' secrets? The gothic-style story of fossils hunters in the Victorian era sees a young girl, uncover her fathers' unearthly discovery of a tree that can exist only in complete darkness and must be fed lies in order to grow. When her father mysteriously dies, it is down to Faith to prove it was murder, not suicide. As the tale winds its' way through secrets upon conspiracy upon impossibilities, Faith reveals a few of her familys' most deeply hidden secrets, a spell is cast upon the reader that shocks and compels. It also begs the question, is absolute truth really the best thing?
Frances Hardinge has been a favourite of mine since her first novel, Fly By Night. With a writing and story-telling style that is simple incredible, each and every book has been a pure joy to read. Her world-building in incisive, rich and unparalleled. What remains to be seen now? Will Frances Hardinge be the first childrens' author since Philip Pullman in 2001 to take the overall Costa prize on 26 January? With a book that is this mesmerising, thrilling and drawn with insight, I certainly hope so.
p.s. Please read Frances' other books: Fly By Night (2005), Verdigis Deep (2007), Gullstruck Island (2009), Twilight Robbery (2011 - sequel to Fly By Night), A Face Like Glass (2012), Cuckoo Song (2014) Each one will take you on a journey you will never forget.