cover image The Spindlers

The Spindlers

Lauren Oliver, illus. by Iacopo Bruno. Harper, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-197808-1

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. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Oct.)