Hardinge is a warm bowl of porridge, so studded with raisins that you wonder if Napa has any grapes left on the vine.
“The smells of trout and muffins and blackberry sauce pushed into Mosca's insides like a spoon and scraped her empty stomach.”
Like Moses at the Red Sea, Hardinge uses what is in her hand. When questions need answered, when holes need filled, the work is never done by a one-off, exiting bear. If a strong character is introduced, only to fizzle from sight, you can be sure they will reappear eventually, in blazing glory.
“For a few moments, she stared pensively at Mosca, her eyes widening and narrowing as if to allow in thoughts of different sizes.”
But with every bowl of porridge comes certain vitamins. In Fly Trap, Hardinge's recipe for heart-healthy fiction (aka her worldview) is evident in her treatment of the Beloved, a pantheon of household deities that govern each hour of the day--and night. Mosca, the enlightened urchin, digs “her fingernails into her palms” as she fervently tries “to imagine the universe free of little gods.” Religion is clearly portrayed as the opiate of the masses, forcing a complacent acceptance of fate. As one “misled” character laments, “...I was born under Wilyfell. So I am born to lure other folks into vice. It is my Beloved-given nature--I am doomed to it.”
It was interesting to trace the sinewy themes of free will and doom to the eventual conclusion that you make your own luck; maybe it's okay for some people to hold on to their fool's paradise, but the truly strong have no need of the Beloved.
Which were the very words (or, the very gist) spoken by a Philosophical Taoist acquaintance of mine the day before I finished Fly Trap.