This book is much like that proverbial boulder: it takes a while to get going, but once it gets started, it rolls down the hill until it crashes to a stop, leaving you breathless.
The Lost Conspiracy is the story of an island where there’s tension between the colonists and the native peoples, the Lace. There are people — Lost, they call them — who can spend time outside of their bodies. The people of the island need them — it’s how they communicate over vast distances — but don’t exactly trust them. And when all of them, except for one Lace Lost, Arilou, suddenly die, an investigation starts, which sends Arilou and her sister, the unobtrusive Hathin, on a run for their lives.
It sounds pedantic, and for the first 200 pages or so, it is. Hardinge is a gifted writer, one of the least clunky writers of simile and metaphor I’ve ever read. The metaphors roll off the page effortlessly, drawing readers in, rather than putting them off. But even Hardinge’s gifted writing can’t keep the first part from dragging a bit, which is sad, because many people will give up before the book really gets exciting, which it does, right around a third of the way through. Hardinge starts weaving in folk tales and traditions, giving life and personality to volcanoes, and turns the book into a bit of an adventure story and mystery. There are twists and turns, help from unexpected sources, and a bad guy who is scary because he’s so reasonable and so wrong at the same time.
All of that adds together to make this book a true pleasure to read.
Rated: Mild, for some mild swearing and some intense situations. There’s a mass genocide, but it’s more implied than described.