Liza is the only one who notices that Patrick is different. One night, he was her annoying little brother. The next morning, she knew the spindlers had gotten him. The not-Patrick was different, empty inside. That’s because spindlers take your soul Below and leave tiny eggs where your insides used to be, and if you don’t get your soul back in your body, it will soon collapse so the little spindlers can crawl out. If you thought spiders were as bad as it gets, think again.
"Liza’s quest definitely invites you to tag along. You’ll be as impressed with her determination as the rats, spindlers, and other critters are."
But how do you explain to your busy parents that your brother might look and sound like your brother, but he’s not? Even Liza has to give the not-Patrick some tests before she’s sure that he’s been taken by spindlers. As she goes snooping around, though, she falls down and finds herself Below, in a world where all of the things you just can’t seem to hold onto (single socks, reading glasses, homework) are sold on a black market and where just about everyone fears the spindlers.
As dazzled and intrigued (and a little grossed out) as she is, Liza remembers that if she’s Below, it’s because she needs to find the real Patrick before it’s too late. With the help of a rat named Mirabella and some glowworms (but that’s not their real name, as Liza soon learns), Liza travels farther and farther Below. In doing so, she meets so many challenges that she starts to wonder whether annoying little brothers are really worth all that trouble.
Like James in JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, Liza learns that the life of the creatures Below is not so different from her life Above. She also learns that it pays to have a friend or two and not to be so self-absorbed that she only thinks about her own problems. After all, as Mirabella points out, how would you feel if you had brooms swatted at you all day?
A little spooky, a little funny, and a lot adventurous, THE SPINDLERS places itself firmly in the company of classics like THE WIZARD OF OZ and ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and modern tales like CORALINE and THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING. It may not be the most unique of these tales, as you can pretty easily place where the inspiration for each challenge comes from, but Liza’s quest definitely invites you to tag along. You’ll be as impressed with her determination as the rats, spindlers, and other critters are.
Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gomez on October 29, 2012