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Frances Hardinge children's novel wins top book prize

By Jack Hardy

Published 27/01/2016

Children's author Frances Hardinge has won the 2015 Costa Book of the Year for her supernatural tale The Lie Tree. Hailed by judges as "a fantastic story", the Victorian detective novel is the first children's book to scoop the prize for 14 years.

It saw off competition from debut novelist Andrew Michael Hurley's Gothic horror story The Loney and esteemed author Kate Atkinson's A God In Ruins.

The last children's book to win the prestigious prize was Philip Pullman with The Amber Spyglass in 2001.

Despite entering the evening as the underdog, the judging panel declared The Lie Tree the winner at an event in London. Judging panel chairman James Heneage said: "First and foremost, Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree is a fantastic story.

"It is an important book, not only because it is a great narrative, with great characterisation, but because its central message of possibility for an intelligent girl who is out of touch for the age in which she lives is a very important one and, I would argue, relevant for today.

"I think lots of girls today would also feel they are quite often out of touch - which could be in anything from boys to motor cars to the art on the walls."

The Lie Tree follows the story of teenager Faith as she tries to uncover the details of her father's mysterious death.

The budding scientist finds a tree which, when fed with lies, bears fruit that acts as a gateway to understanding previously incomprehensible truths.

The Costa Book Awards solely considers authors living in the UK and Ireland.

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