My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication date: Oct 2, 2012
Liza allowed herself to be pushed forward by the seething mass of spider-people. At the last second, she turned around. Mirabella was still standing, frozen, by the edge of the River of Knowledge, clutching her mirror.
When her younger brother seemed to have changed overnight and become a shell of his former self, Liza knows what happened to him. She knows from her babysitter’s stories that the Spindlers have come for him, abducted his soul, and brought it back down to their underground lair. That night, she arms herself with a broom and sets out on a dangerous, Oz- or Wonderland-like adventure where she must face her fears in order to rescue her brother before it’s too late.
This whimsical, delightful “middle grade” novel is has something for everyone — a hint of magic, a touch of danger, a fantastic new world right under our feet, and a story line that is simple, yet fun. In each chapter, Eliza meets fascinating creatures and evades the dangers lurking in wait for her, making this a perfect read-aloud for a classroom or bedtime story.
Though some of the aspects of this story did seem familiar, as if they were borrowed from other stories (the forest of hostile trees seemed rather Wizard of Oz, and the trial at The Court of Stones reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, for instance), and the main concept of embarking on a dangerous journey to save a loved one isn’t anything new (Labyrinth, anyone?), the author creates a fun, fantastical tale that stands out and is sure to become a favorite.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this book!
Overall: A whimsical adventure perfectly suited for middle grade readers or those looking for a simple, but fun easy-read fantasy.