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The Lost Conspiracy

The Lost Conspiracy

4.0 2
by Frances Hardinge

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On an island of sandy beaches, dense jungles, and slumbering volcanoes, colonists seek to apply archaic laws to a new land, bounty hunters stalk the living for the ashes of their funerary pyres, and a smiling tribe is despised by all as traitorous murderers. It is here, in the midst of ancient tensions and new calamity, that two sisters are caught in a deadly web


On an island of sandy beaches, dense jungles, and slumbering volcanoes, colonists seek to apply archaic laws to a new land, bounty hunters stalk the living for the ashes of their funerary pyres, and a smiling tribe is despised by all as traitorous murderers. It is here, in the midst of ancient tensions and new calamity, that two sisters are caught in a deadly web of deceits.

Arilou is proclaimed a beautiful prophetess—one of the island's precious oracles: a Lost. Hathin, her junior, is her nearly invisible attendant. But neither Arilou nor Hathin is exactly what she seems, and they live a lie that is carefully constructed and jealously guarded.

When the sisters are unknowingly drawn into a sinister, island-wide conspiracy, quiet, unobtrusive Hathin must journey beyond all she has ever known of her world—and of herself—in a desperate attempt to save them both. As the stakes mount and falsehoods unravel, she discovers that the only thing more dangerous than the secret she hides is the truth she must uncover.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
British author Hardinge's latest feat is a luminous example of gifted storytelling at its best. Set on Gullstruck, an enchanted island of dueling dormant volcanoes, lush jungles and warring tribes, two sisters in a shunned race of perpetually smiling Lace people possess a secret. Arilou, first in line to become the next Lady Lost (a hallowed figure with a propensity for out-of-body travel), shows no sign of being the mystic she is believed to be. Hathin, Arilou's official “translator” and unofficial guardian, attempts to hide their deceit at all costs. But when a Lost Inspector comes to town to authenticate Arilou's identity, their ruse—and the fate of the Lace people—is in danger. The detailed tale that unfolds is epic, but unlike some long-for-long's-sake snooze fests, this journey feels effortless and wholly satisfying. Deliciously complex yet easily digestible, Hardinge's (Well Witched) prose is what makes the reading so enjoyable (“While Arilou's name was meant to sound like the call of an owl... Hathin's name imitated the whisper of settling dust”). Every turn of phrase (like the book itself) is thick with poetry and meaning. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Hathin lives on a volcanic island as a member of the Lace tribe; a race of people who naturally smile, even when they are feeling sad. They are hated and abused by other races on the island. Also on the island are people called the Lost, because they have the ability to leave their bodies and observe what is going on else where. Hathin's older sister Arilou is a Lost—they think; or at least they let the outside world think she is a Lost, but Hathin's clan thinks maybe she is just dimwitted. When all the other Lost suddenly and mysteriously die, the sisters' clan is blamed. Now Hathin needs to hide her sister and avenge the death of her clans people. She meets up with a group of Lace called the Reckoning who also are on revenge quests. Along the way Hathin is thrilled to learn her sister really is a Lost of great power. In the end, Hathin realizes that living in harmony is better than living in discord and seeking forgiveness is better than seeking revenge. There is a lot of really lyrical writing in this book and although it is a bit long winded, I enjoyed it. The description of a volcano erupting was very exciting and scary. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 6–9—It will take readers more than a few beats to find their bearings in this relentlessly inventive fantasy, but once they figure out the Lost (people who can send their senses out into the world and sometimes get lost from their bodies), the social relations among the colonized and colonizers of Gullstruck Island, and the physical world they inhabit, the story is gripping. Haithin is the nearly invisible viewpoint character, one of those people that you hardly realize is there, and the indispensable guide and interpreter of her sister, Arilou, who may or may not be one of the Lost. As members of a despised minority cast, the sisters are part of an elaborate scheme to convince outsiders of the worth of their village as a tourist attraction. Intrigue piles upon intrigue as the Lost are nearly exterminated and Haithin's people are blamed. Can the sisters survive the murderous crowds, fight their way through the jungles of Gullstruck, appease the violent volcanoes, and navigate the silly court life of the local ruler? Especially memorable are some of the secondary characters, including a traveling dentist who manipulates the masses while she drills teeth and a man who is nearly as unnoticeable as Haithin but who appears to be pulling the strings of state. Haithin's journey is, of course, epic. She faces hardship, tragedy, doubt, killer insects, and a river of lava and, in the end, becomes something of a myth herself. The author is as inventive with language as she is with social and cultural constructs. This novel is just plain fun.—Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Hardinge knows the world of Gullstruck. She understands its complex mix of cultures and languages, grasps the nuances of religion and belief and comprehends the long-simmering tensions between colonial invaders and indigenous tribes. Her lyrical descriptions paint a clear picture of the flora and fauna as well as the unusual landscapes-rumbling volcanoes, lush jungles, rocky coastlines-that make up the tiny island nation. This is hardly surprising, as she invented this world. What's amazing, however, is how easy she makes it for readers to enter into and apprehend it-even while mysteries swirl around them. From the first pages, in which readers are introduced to the notion of people who can separate their senses from their bodies, through a breathtaking journey of revenge and redemption that pits a stubborn, devoted girl against an unknown evil, epitomized by the deliberately anonymous individual who manipulates those around him into wreaking death and destruction, the story builds inexorably to the gripping conclusion. Brilliantly conceived, perfectly executed and utterly mesmerizing. (Fantasy. 12 & up)
ALA Booklist
“A deeply imaginative story, with nuanced characters, intricate plotting, and an amazingly original setting.”-
Horn Book (starred review)
“An impressive heroine [and] a many-layered, richly rewarding story.”
Horn Book
"An impressive heroine [and] a many-layered, richly rewarding story."

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Frances Hardinge is the celebrated author of Fly By night, Well Witched, and The Lost Conspiracy. She spent her childhood in Kent, England, in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and from an early age she wrote stories filled with magic and vivid characters. Ms. Hardinge studied at Oxford University, where she was a founding member of a writers' workshop. This is her fourth novel.

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The Lost Conspiracy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever been in the wilderness with a sister that can’t walk properly and had to escape a man that wants to kill you for your ashes? You may have not, but Haithin and her sister, Arilou, from The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge have. The two sisters’ tribe is killed and accused of murdering the Lost. The Lost are powerful people with amazing powers that allow them to do stuff when the let their mind leave their body to wander. Haithin has to avoid Prox, Jimboly, and the Ashwalker as she makes a harsh journey to where the Revengers live. She becomes a Revenger and in an attempt to avenge her tribes’ death. Haithin makes hard decisions and sometimes has to go against the people of her own tribe. I recommend this book to people who don’t get easily confused. Sneha S.
Dunderson More than 1 year ago
The story is good at making you identify with little Hathin who has emmense responsibility thrust on her shoulders. She had to speak for her sister - making things up and trying to be accurate. You can feel her anquish when her whole village is massacred. And you can feel her determination as she tries to figure out why. Very good book overall, but somewhat depressing at times.