4 stars (I really liked it)
I’m not sure what to call the subgenre that Liesl and Po fits into, but I recognized it immediately. It’s a stylized Victorian England where everything is sooty, adults are self-centered and horrid, and children are suffering but still full of wonder and goodness. Sometimes there’s magic or other supernatural elements. The movie The Box Trolls is a classic example:
Both child leads in Liesl & Po are being abused, but Liesl befriends a ghost named Po, who begins to change her life, and meanwhile Will (a delivery boy) accidentally ends up in possession of the most powerful magic in the universe, and when the three of them (Liesl, Po, and Will) team up, they find a way to defeat the villainous adults in their lives and achieve their own happily ever after.
A bit dark for my tastes (I feel like that was the theme of 2020, which makes me wonder if dark books are the problem or if it was 2020 that was too dark for me to want more dark in my books). I recommend this for kids who like things a little spooky and/or gritty. I’m thinking fans of Roald Dahl or Coraline (or Box Trolls).