Liza’s brother has changed; she’s certain of it. The spindlers have come and taken his soul while her and her brother slept and now she must venture down into the world Below to rescue him.
It is there that she encounters a world full of impossible things.
Talking rats, greedy troglods, giant tree snakes and many dangerous creatures all come out to cross her path, as she journeys to the spindlers’ nest to face the Queen and restore her brother’s soul to the world Above.
The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver is her second book for older children (middle grade) and though it doesn’t have the same warm glow of Liesl and Po, it does hold a spine-tingling adventure through the land Below, where many marvellous things live.
In a few places the language and even Liza’s thoughts becomes quite adult; it is something of a blend between words and phrases that would appear familiar to children and the introduction of ones that may offer them new things to ponder.
And as a fan of covers and design, I am often swayed to pick up a book based on their illustrator and front cover images, and I believe Iacopo Bruno deserves a pat on the back. There is an essence of storytelling in his design and I think a lot of his covers are the type that don’t really need blurbs or any further information, as they create enough interest and familiarity for readers without them.
The one area that I have conflicted feelings about is the themes. Though they are good themes to work with, i.e.) prejudice and not judging a book by its cover (or an animal by it’s tail) and self-acceptance, some points come across as a bit too heavy or overdone. And I wonder if the story may have profited from a more subtle touch.
However, this treatment appears to be only a minor issue on the scale of things, as the sense of wonder Oliver creates is similar to that of Holly Black’s The Spiderwick Chronicles, while bringing to life memories of the film Labyrinth in its reminiscent structure of Sarah’s journey to reclaim her brother from the Goblin king, while Mirabella poses as Liza’s very own Hoggle.
The Spindlers is the creation of a fantastical world that will intrigue and excite readers, and have children curious about what lies beneath their basements or floors; perhaps, like Liza, there’s a hole that will lead them to another world… a world Below.
Available now: Hachette RRP$18.99