Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver is a juvenile fantasy with a Victorian feel.
night, shortly after the death of her beloved father, Liesl (a
Cinderella-like young girl confined to an attic bedroom by a cruel
stepmother) is visited by Po, a ghost. Drawn to her sad sweetness and
her artistic talent, Po and his ghostly animal companion Bundle are soon
caught up in a plan to help Liesl escape the attic and take the ashes
of her dead father to the country home where Liesl's mother is buried.
Po is not the only one who has been drawn to Leisl's sweetness: Will, an
apothecary's apprentice, has noticed her face at the attic window and
dreamed of meeting her. When their paths cross on the way out of the
city, the three children (two corporeal, one ghostly) find themselves
caught up in a larger adventure than they ever expected.
thought the writing was strong in this story, but the plot was weak.
There are too many coincidences, and too many people who behave in
unbelievable ways in order to ensure they are in the right place at the
right time, plot-wise (for instance, there is an old woman on a train
who apparently decides that Liesl is a menace to society because Liesl
appears to be talking to herself, and so the old woman manages to
convince a police officer to accompany her in a cross-country chase to
catch the girl. It's necessary to the plot that the police officer be at
the denouement, but it doesn't make sense to me that he would allow
himself to be caught up in the chase for a child who has not broken any
laws). I can see how some children might enjoy this story (it has
courageous children and evil grown-ups and lots of adventure and
danger), but mature fantasy readers will probably find that there are
just too many plot holes to fall into.
I listened to the
audiobook, narrated by Jim Dale, who has just the right sort of voice
for this type of story. While I don't much care for his interpretation
of the Harry Potter books, I thought he did well by this one.
(Reviewed from an e-audiobook borrowed through my library system.)