Home > Book, Book Review, Children, Fantasy, Reviews, Young Adult > Book Review – Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Book Review – Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

February 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Book Description:

A mix-up involving the greatest magic in the world has tremendous consequences for Liesl, an orphan who has been locked in an attic, Will, an alchemist’s runaway apprentice, and Po, a ghost, as they are pursued by friend and foe while making an important journey.

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.


“Coincidences; mix-ups; harmless mistakes and switches. And so a story is born.”

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver was an absolute delight to read – had I been a young kid reading my first book, I think that Liesl & Po would have set me off for life as a book lover! It’s that good. What’s funny is that I’m not in the actual age group this fairy tale-like novel is geared to (it’s written for young readers, and features lovely sketch illustrations by Kei Acedera), but wouldn’t you agree that some books just transcend age or time? Featuring magic, ghosts, alchemists, lonely orphans, and an evil stepmother – this magical fantasy novel hooked me from the first line – “On the third night after the day her father died, Liesl saw the ghost” –  and just never let me go.  I so highly recommend this one!

The setting of Liesl & Po is a cold, dark and dreary Dickensian-like world where the sun has not shone for 1,278 days. The story follows three child characters:  the grieving 11-year-old orphan, Liesl Morbower, who is imprisoned in an attic bedroom by her evil stepmother; the child-ghost Po (and its pet ghost Bundle) who delivers an important message to Liesl from her father lost in limbo on ‘The Other Side‘; and the overworked (and sleep-deprived) alchemist’s apprentice Will who manages to misplace ‘the greatest magic in the world”.  Liesl (accompanied by Po) escapes her attic prison, and sets out on a journey to fulfill her father’s last wish, her flight intersecting with that of the runaway apprentice Will. And thus begins the group’s misadventures while pursued by dangerous foes (including the deliciously villainous Lady Premiere who believes the children have stolen the ‘magic‘) and an unexpected ally.

Liesl & Po is a story of loss & goodbyes, unlikely friendships, the love of family, and ultimately, one of new beginnings and hope. And this is a children’s book! Ms Oliver wrote in her ‘Authors Note‘ that this book was written to help her deal with the sudden death of her best friend and that she didn’t expect the book to be publishable (?!) – I’m glad that someone took a chance with this. It’s a very special book.

I haven’t read Lauren Oliver’s other novels (Before I Fall and Delirium), but just based on this, I think I should check them out. Ms Oliver is a talented writer, able to convey rich imagery with her words (that are just perfect for reading out loud). Example: “… he had walked down empty street after empty street, past row after row of darkened houses, in silence so thick it was like a syrup that dragged his footsteps away into echoes…” Sigh, makes me wish I could write like that!

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (illustrated by Kei Acedera) from HarperCollins is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition, Hardcover edition and Audible audio edition. *also available at Amazon UK.

The eBook is also available at B&N, and Apple iBooks.

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