He looked the same: the same space alien pajamas, the same holey socks, the same way of descending the stairs on his rump. But Liza knows this boy in front of her at breakfast is not her brother Patrick. He’s too quiet, too polite, and his eyes are strangely vacant.

Liza knows what has happened: the spindlers. The spiderlike creatures have stolen her brother’s soul and taken it to their underground lairs, leaving his body to crumble to dust and release thousands of new spindlers to wreak havoc on unsuspecting humans. Liza’s a willful girl, so she sets off through a hole in the basement wall and, like a famous soul sister named Alice, falls into a strange new wonderland of a world. Teaming up with a rat named Mirabella, Liza meets troglods, nids, the Lumer-Lumpen, the lovely nocturni and the awful scawgs.

Readers will be right there with Liza on her odyssey, who proves her strength and resourcefulness at every turn in the fascinating world below. Oliver has crafted a thoroughly engaging, fast-paced novel that will remind fans of Suzanne Collins’ Gregor the ­Overlander (2004). Besides an exciting story full of terrible and marvelous creatures, this is an ode to the power of stories and the attachments to home. Young readers will be as caught up in the story Oliver spins as souls are trapped in the spindler queen’s web.

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