Friday March 1, 2013
Gutsy little lady
Review by TAN SHIOW CHIN
Liza has to enter the scary, mysterious world, Below, when her brother Patrick’s soul is stolen by the evil spindlers.
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper, 246 pages
Have you ever had that moment as a child when the grown-ups around you refuse to believe something that you know to be true?
Liza wakes up one morning to discover the horrible fact that her younger brother Patrick has had his soul stolen by the spindlers. Oh, his body is still present – walking, talking and acting almost like the real Patrick – but the look in his eyes is strangely vacant, and his reactions are just ever-so-slightly off. His big sister would know.
But the thing inhabiting Patrick is clever enough to fool their parents, who are busy with their own problems.
That means that if Liza ever wants to see her irritating, loveable little brother again, she would have to go to Below, where the scary spider-like spindlers live and feast on stolen human souls, and rescue him herself.
Now, how did she know about the spindlers in the first place, you ask? Well, Liza and Patrick had a wise babysitter called Anna, who told them all about the spindlers, but who has, unfortunately, gone away to college.
So, all alone and armed only with a broom, which the spindlers are supposed to be afraid of, Liza bravely steels herself and enters into the mysterious world Below via a hole in her basement wall.
Almost immediately, she lands on a made-up, bewigged and dressed-up rat called Mirabella, who reluctantly agrees to show her the way to the spindlers’ nest.
She and Mirabella then embark on a journey through Below, encountering various, mostly scary, creatures along the way.
Among those that they come across are the gnome-like troglods who operate a well-known marketplace Below that uses coloured pieces of paper as currency (pink is the rarest “denomination”); the formal lumer-lumpen, who are the light sources of Below; the mysterious nocturni, who bring dreams to human beings Above; and the diabolically seductive scawgs, who draw the unwary in without them even realising it.
After many scares and diversions, Liza and Mirabella finally arrive at the spindlers’ nests, where the evil spindler queen has more than one nasty surprise in store for Liza.
Author Lauren Oliver writes a fairly gripping adventure filled with interesting and varied creatures. The action is fast, with Liza and Mirabella encountering new creatures and situations every other chapter, all working up to the final challenge of winning Patrick’s soul back.
I also really liked the illustrations that adorn each chapter head, drawn by Iacopo Bruno.
Aimed at a younger audience, this book is recommended for tweens who like fantasy stories and gutsy hero(in)es.
Young readers who are afraid of spiders and the dark, and have an overactive imagination might want to steer clear of The Spindlers.