Fly Trap


Frances Hardinge


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

December 24, 2019

elcome back, Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent, the two rascals who first appeared in Frances Hardinge's novel Fly By Night. In this, their second adventure, Mosca and Eponymous are on the run, fleeing from the murderous Skellow. Mosca and Eponymous possess knowledge of a kidnapping scheme. If our heroes can thwart the kidnappers, then they hope to claim a generous reward. Mosca and Eponymous barely escape into the walled town of Toll, eluding their pursuers (for now). But getting out of Toll proves to be a good deal harder than getting in.

In Fly Trap, Hardinge again has created a quirky society. The city of Toll is strange indeed - all the citizens enjoy a peaceful bountiful existence, as long as they can pay their taxes. But when the sun goes down, Toll transforms into a very dangerous place. The good citizens retreat to their sheltered lairs, and the people of the night emerge to commit crimes and terrible deeds. If you can't pay your taxes, you are banished to survive the Toll night.

In Toll, the people believe that when you are born determines your name, and your name determines whether you are a citizen of the daylight, or a terrible person sentenced to the night world. Unfortunately for Mosca, her name is one of the despised names. As a visitor, she has three days of daylight living, after which (unless she can pay the big fee), Mosca will left out on her third night in Toll. Thus Mosca and Eponymous find themselves desperate for a way to quickly procure a large sum of money. And such a scheme presents itself - if they can steal the Luck of the Toll, they will be rewarded. But the Luck of Toll is hidden inside an impenetrable tower. However, that tower does house the jail, maybe someone small enough could climb a chimney from her jail cell and find the treasure room where the Luck of Toll is stored. The sinister Mistress Bessel has schemed to put Mosca in the jail - and if Mosca doesn't do what Bessel, things might go badly for her...

This being a Hardinge novel, there are all sorts of adventures and intrigue and surprises. There is an incredible plot to kidnap the beautiful, perfect daughter of the Mayor, Beamabeth Marlebourne. Beamabeth is so wonderful that the dashing Brand Appleton longs to marry her, though Mosca thinks Appleton is addled in his brain. Or perhaps Appleton's behavior is just an act, might he part of the kidnapping ring? The prim and perfect Beamabeth rankles Mosca - is Mosca just jealous, or is there something dark lurking in the interior of the outwardly perfect mayor's daughter?

The night side of Toll is a frightening place for Mosca. There is a bizarre girl, Laylow, who seems to survive the night by climbing the walls and smuggling goods. There is a good midwife who befriends Mosca. Scariest of all is the terrible skeleton of a horse, Clatterhorse, which gallops through the night streets collecting taxes. There are secret passages and ticking deadlines. I enjoyed all of it very much!

Fly Trap was published in 2011. Since that time, Hardinge has written five other novels, none of which feature Mosca and Eponymous. So, alas!, it appears that this won't be a trilogy. It certainly seemed that the final confrontation between Mosca and Amari Goshawk hinted at further adventures, it would be nice if Hardinge could bring these rogues back for one more romp. I guess I can still hope for one more. This creative book is great fun, don't miss reading it.