914QEUbpyELReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

One spring morning, Liza Elston wakes up and her little brother Patrick is not there. Well, he is there in body, but from the second she sees him coming down the stairs, Liza knows that the Patrick she’s seeing is not her real brother. She knows what they’ve always feared has happened to him: his soul was taken in the night by the giant, evil spider-like creatures known as spindlers. Unfortunately, Liza’s parents don’t believe a word she is telling them, so it’s up to Liza to journey to the mystical world known only as Below to rescue her brother’s soul–where her only companion is a makeup wearing rat named Mirabella, and there’s danger at every turn.

I read this book in one sitting, and though I am an older reader I liked the magic and innocence that The Spindlers had to offer. Liza (I’m not sure of her age as it was never expressly mentioned, but I’d put her around 10) is a brave girl who is very practical. As soon as her parents dismiss her tale of Patrick not being her real brother as just another story she’s telling, Liza knows that she must be the one to save him. And though she’s sometimes scared, she never lets anyone know it. I respected her for facing such scary creatures and keeping her head about her!

The author has done a fantastic job at creating the Below environment. I had no trouble picturing not only the landscape, but the different critters that lived there as well. And there were several: the nocturni, black butterfly/hummingbird hybrids who control the dreams of humans; the nids, who are tiny but quite forceful; and of course the spindlers, who have eight legs ending in human hands, and whose queen can swell to the size of a house! Meeting with all these creatures was quite fun and reminiscent of such tales as Alice in Wonderland and A Wrinkle in Time.

There is one twist towards the end that I didn’t see coming at all, and it made the story quite good, in my opinion. I loved how the book ended, and I think middle grade readers will gobble this tale just as quickly as I did.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.