Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (review copy) - A tale of one girl, two ghosts and the most powerful magic in the world.
'On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost.'
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. From Amazon UK
I'm generally not a fan of children's novels. There are a few favourites from when I was young, like Roald Dahl, but otherwise, I tend to steer clear as they're just not something I tend to enjoy. But Liesl & Po is written by Lauren Oliver, and my adoration for the words she puts onto page knows no bounds, so there was no doubt I was going to read this book. And it was absolutely enchanting!
Liesl & Po has everything you would expect in a children's book, including a number of cruel and evil villians, who were just so despicable I actually loved them. There's heartache and hard lives, there's wonder and discovery, there's boundless love. It's just a real sweet story.
There's also something really, really special to this story; the ending. A happy ending when there is no happy ending to be found; because, when people are dead, what happy ending can there be? I won't spoil the ending for you, but it truely is magical. It's a rainbow during a storm ending. Even I, an adult, got something out of it. It's uplifting and hopeful.
That on it's own is really something quite wonderful, but there's more that makes this story such a deeply emotional read. At the beginning of the book is a letter from Oliver, a letter that tells of how Liesl & Po came into existance. It was born from Oliver's grief at the death of her best friend, and was her way of trying to make sense of things. I read the letter before I started the book, and now I've finished, I am in complete awe, for more than just Oliver's indescribably beautiful way with words, but with what she's actually putting out into the world; her way through her grief. It's all in the ending, and it makes the ending so much more ineffably beautiful. I never thought I would be so deeply moved by a children's book. There are simply no words for me to say just how wonderful this book is. I finished the book two days ago, yet have tears in my eyes as I write this. It's not a story I will soon forget.
Thanks to Hodder for sending me a review copy.
Published: 29th September 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Buy on Amazon US
Lauren Oliver's Website