Ghosts of Indeterminate Gender

This kind of book is the number one drawback of having an e-reader.  Especially the e-ink type.  Sure, it doesn’t hurt your eyes and you can read it in the sun, but it sure stinks when your book has cool drawings.

I can’t think of an interesting, relatable anecdote to tie into the story, so I’ll just start telling you about it

Liesl’s father has died, and her stepmother, in usual evil-stepmother-style, has locked her in the attic.  Lonely and depressed, Liesl is less surprised than you’d think when a ghost and its pet show up in her tiny room.  Neither boy nor girl, Po comes from the Other Side, attracted to the light Liesl’s room, and intrigued by her imaginative drawings.  Po’s pet, Bundle, neither dog nor cat, goes wherever Po goes, so Liesl gets a package deal of friends.

Liesl and Po make a deal; Po will look for Liesl’s father on the Other Side, and Liesl will draw it a picture.

Meanwhile, Will is standing in the street, gazing up at Liesl’s window.  Will is an orphan and an alchemist’s apprentice—to a very nasty and mean alchemist.  This very night he is set to deliver the most powerful magic potion in the world to the Lady Premiere.  But tired and distracted, Will accidently switches the powerful magic with the ashes of Liesl’s recently deceased father.

Then things get interesting.  This mix-up sets all the characters on the same path, a journey to the house that where Liesl grew up.  The different motives and different viewpoints build an interesting and layered storyline that manages to be both alternately funny, sweet, and sad. 

Probably my favorite character would have to be the guard Mo–not to bright of a guy, but all brawn and heart.  Constantly worried that Will must be cold because he doesn’t have a hat, Mo and his cat (Lefty, who he carries around in a makeshift Baby Bjorn), bumble into the adventure, and end up helping our heroes (mainly by accident) along the way.

Though the story can turn a bit saccharine occasionally, I enjoyed the magical and surprising elements within it.  I also thought it was pretty interesting that this is the same author (Lauren Oliver) that writes Delirium and Pandemonium.  I wouldn’t have guessed it otherwise.  Liesl and Po didn’t suffer from the overwrought writing that sometimes gets to me with Oliver’s work.

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About rhymenocerous

rhymenocerous combines a fondness for hip hop with her love of the serengeti. Her soft spot for kids in space is eclipsed only by her passion for time-travelling children. She eats too much cake and frequently pretends her dachshund speaks French. View all posts by rhymenocerous

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