Title: Liesl and Poe
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
About the book (Taken from Goodreads):
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice,until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
Orphans on the run from dramatically evil adult villains? Yes, it’s been done. But add in two ghosts, the Other Side, and some dark magic that’s taken away all the sunshine in the world––now you’ve got a story!
If you read the afterword, you will learn that Lauren Oliver wrote this book following the death of a friend. This is a story drenched with melancholy and sadness, but also one of hope. The world between the pages of this book are cold and colorless. But there is also love and kindness, so don’t despair! The ending is a happy one––more or less.
My only complaint is this: the magic is too loosely strung. I like my magic solid, like Harry Potter––rules apply. There aren’t really any rules to the magic in this book. It’s just thrown about haphazardly as needed for the plot.
The same applies to the Other Side. The descriptions are good, and I had no trouble visualizing both worlds (the grey one Liesl lives in and the strange warped one of the Other Side), but the loosely woven “laws” that govern the two sides are easily broken. Basically, you are just told something can’t be done, then they go ahead and do it––with little to no struggle.
Overall: Three stars. The illustrations are amazing! The writing and characters are good (if you don’t mind one-dimensional villains). The plot, however, sagged and was occasionally predictable. The magic was too slippery.
I still liked it.