Review Blog

Nov 05 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

cover image

Hodder and Stoughton, 2012. ISBN: 9781444723137.
When Liza wakes to find that her brother Patrick has 'changed', she knows that the Spindlers, spider like creatures in whom only she and her baby sitter, Anna, believe, have taken his soul. She is the only one who may be able to save him. Armed with nothing but a broom, she leaves her dysfunctional family and heads 'Below' to try and find out what has happened to Patrick and bring him home. On her arrival she meets with a quirky rat, clad in makeup, a wig and clothing including a skirt made of newspaper and a paper hat. It is Mirabella who offers to help her on her quest to find the Spindlers. During their journey, they come across many other characters that cause them grief and try to stop Liza from completing her task.
I found this to be a totally engaging story involving many new and fantastic creatures and settings. The powers of each of the creatures need to be overcome before Liza and Mirabella can continue on their way. Together, the two manage to progress, despite the odds. In this sense, it is a tale reminiscent of Rodda's Rowan of Rin series and is a great example of the Hero's Journey. The two could be used as paired texts by upper primary students to compare and contrast the different journeys and strengths of the characters.
Oliver points out that one should not jump to conclusions about any situation or character or base one's feelings on stereotypes. Liza demonstrates a great deal of change throughout the tale as does Mirabella. Bravery, loyalty, family, resourcefulness, friendship are amongst the many positive themes of this book and I would not hesitate in recommending the title to children aged 10 and above.
Jo Schenkel

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