Evocative of Alice in Wonderland, this novel from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver is a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty and the enduring power of hope. Perfect for fans of the author’s other middle grade novels: Liesl & Po and the Curiosity House series.
Looking across the breakfast table one morning, twelve-year-old Liza feels dread wash over her. Although her younger brother, Patrick, appears the same, Liza knows that he is actually quite different. She is certain that the spindlers—evil, spiderlike beings—came during the night and stole his soul. And Liza is also certain that she is the only one who can rescue him.
Armed with little more than her wits and a huge talking rat for a guide, Liza descends into the dark and ominous underground to save Patrick's soul. Her quest is far from easy: she must brave tree-snakes, the Court of Stones, and shape-shifting scawgs before facing her greatest challenge in the spindlers' lair, where more than just Patrick's soul is at stake.
Liza knows the spiderlike Spindlers have stolen the soul of her brother, Patrick, when he spells "I H-A-T-E Y-O-U" in his Alpha-Bits cereal one morning. "And they had left this thing, this not-younger-brother, in its place." Liza's harried parents reprimand her for making up stories, so she ventures into the damp basement, crawls through the hole behind the bookcase, and falls into the world "Below" to save her brother. There, a gaudily dressed, loquacious rat, Mirabella, agrees to lead Liza to the Spindlers' nests. Along the way, Mirabella introduces Liza to troglods, who sell lost human objects; the lumer-lumpen (glowworms); nocturni, who guard human souls; and other strange, frightening creatures. The terrain changes in dreamlike fashion as Liza travels through market, forest, palace, mountain, and more, making discoveries both terrible and hopeful. Themes of fairness, loyalty, betrayal, and redemption play out in Liza and Mirabella's relationship, and throughout the underworld cosmos. Oliver's (Liesl & Po) magical, mesmerizing quest affirms the saving power of story, friendship, and love. Ages 8 12.