256 pages, $16.99
I confess, I love Lauren Oliver. You may remember me gushing over her first middle-grade novel, Liesl & Po, after which I devoured and loved Before I Fall (YA). While The Spindlers isn't as poignant, it's just as much fun and as well written as her other books.
The story is simple enough: Poor Liza discovers that her brother, Patrick, has been snatched one night by the Spindlers, a race of horrid spiderlike creatures who live in another world Below. The Spindlers feed on souls, and the Thing That Was Once Patrick is clearly a poor substitute for the real thing. Brave, resourceful Liza resolves to bring him home, and so she goes Below armed with a broom (because spiders, she reasons, hate brooms). There she meets up with an array of characters and creatures and is forced to undergo trials and tests in her quest to free Patrick.
It's Oliver's writing that sets this story apart from other quest/rescue tales. She draws her characters so completely, renders their emotions so sympathetically, that we're immediately attached to the outcome. The prose is beautiful, spare, even lyrical, but not difficult to read. Middle-grade readers will quickly identify with Liza, laughing at some of her encounters with those Below, and shivering at others. This is a story with a classic feel and a winning heroine that will please just about everyone.
Wish you had your own copy of The Spindlers? You can win one right here on this blog as part of my Countdown to Pub Day Party! Go enter. Yeah, now.