Monday, October 01, 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver


One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.

When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.

She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.

To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests--or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.

It's been a while since I've read a book for younger readers so decided to read The Spindlers for a change of pace. Firstly, the picture really doesn't do the cover justice. This is a gorgeous book: hardback and beautifully bound with illustrations at the start of each chapter. Seriously, this is the sort of book that makes me want to push my Kindle under the bed and let it gather dust. It also reminds me of the books I loved when I was little both in looks and content.

The Spindlers is a quest story. Liza's brother Patrick isn't right one morning. He looks the same but Liza can tell that the spindlers came in the night and took his soul away - he just isn't acting like the brother she loves. Liza's alone; her parent's are having money worries and don't have time for her. Added to that Liza's beloved babysitter Anna has gone away to college. Everyone that Liza could depend on is otherwise occupied forcing her to head down to the cellar alone and visit the land Down Below. If there's something I love in fantasy books it's the moment when the main character passes from our world to the other. My favourite of all time is The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones when the main character is simply nudged into the other world. The Spindlers is up there with the best - Liza heads into the basement crawl space and finds a hole into which she tumbles. However the character gets there it's the world itself which decides for me if the book is a keeper or not.

The World Below is a dark and dangerous place. Liza lands on Mirabella - a rat with an inferiority complex. Once they've sorted out their differences she agrees to guide Liza to the Spindlers so she can get Patrick's soul back. Their journey is all kinds of epic. They meet a myriad of creatures my favourite being the Nocturni - shadowy hummingbird-like creatures who, en-masse, remind Liza of, "black snow." How beautiful is that? Each person has their own Nocturni which is responsible for your dreams every night. There are also scary woods and intriguing beings that made the whole book a real joy. It reads like an instant classic, there's nothing in the pages that would age it. Liza's quest is suitably high-stakes and I loved the secondary issues of missing friends and being aware that something isn't right with her parents. 

I'm going to see if we can get this book ordered for our library as I think it's one that will stick with you, whatever age you read it.

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