“Liza told herself stories as though she was weaving and knotting an endless rope. Then, no matter how dark or terrible the pit she found herself in, she could pull herself out, inch by inch and hand over hand, on the long rope of stories.”
Like so many GU books I’ve read lately, I picked out The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver by instinct from the new hardcover section at the library. It was a pretty creative and entertaining read, heavily influenced by Alice in Wonderland and other stories from this genre.
Liza lives with her little brother Patrick and her parents, who are both too distracted to notice when one day Patrick isn’t quite right. Liza knows what has happened, thanks to the stories her babysitter told them: Patrick’s soul has been taken by the spindlers, horrible spider-like creatures who inhabit a world Below. She sets out to rescue him, starting at a hole in the wall of her basement, and falling like Alice down a long tunnel to a different world.
Also like Alice, the first creature she meets there is an animal (in this case, a rat) dressed in human clothes. Mirabella becomes Liza’s companion and guide through her journey to the spindlers’ nests, a journey filled with peril and a plethora of remarkable underground creatures. At one point, she almost forgets herself and her quest. And there is a horrible betrayal. In the end she must face the spindler queen and pass three tests to rescue her brother. With help, she is able to fulfill her quest, defeat the queen, and make it back to the safety of her own home.