Fly by Night ★☆☆☆☆

Definitely one of many books I have requested based on a good description and an awesome cover, but definitely not one that I would recommend.

Everybody knew that books were dangerous. Read the wrong book, it was said, and the words crawled around your brain on black legs and drove you mad, wicked mad. Mosca Mye was born at a time sacred to Goodman Palpitattle, He Who Keeps Flies out of Jams and Butterchurns, which is why her father insisted on naming her after the housefly. He also insisted on teaching her to read—even in a world where books are dangerous, regulated things. Eight years later, Quillam Mye died, leaving behind an orphaned daughter with an inauspicious name and an all-consuming hunger for words. Trapped for years in the care of her cruel Uncle Westerly and Aunt Briony, Mosca leaps at the opportunity for escape, though it comes in the form of sneaky swindler Eponymous Clent. As she travels the land with Clent and her pet goose, Saracen, Mosca begins to discover complicated truths about the world she inhabits and the power of words.

Fly by Night starts too far into the story. The prologue is purely expository, telling us all about the political history of the world, and ends with a few sentences wrapping up when Mosca’s father dies and how old she will be in chapter one. In chapter one, Mosca is already running away with a stolen goose. She is looking to free Eponymous Clent, a man who was recently jailed as a con man. Mosca believes Clent can help her escape. It is not until the end of the chapter that we learn she has set fire to her uncle’s barn, that she was living with her uncle, or that her uncle was cruel to her.

There is also a significant amount of justification missing from Mosca’s characterization. Her life with her uncle is among that but so is her desperation to stay with Eponymous Clent, who literally abandons her every chance he gets. It feels like the only reason she is drawn to him is to have adult supervision. I have no reason to believe that Mosca needs Clent when she is capable, not only of catching up to him, but also of finding things on her own.

There is simply not enough building before the action of the story begins and ultimately, Fly by Night suffered for it.

By J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.