Thursday, May 08, 2008

Two Keys to the Kingdom reviews

Arthur Penhaligon is supposed to be in bed - after all it's only 12 hours since he saved the world. But there's no time to rest. Grim Tuesday has laid claim to the Lower House and the First Key, and now his misshapen servants are repossessing Arthur's world and plunging it into financial disaster. To stop them, Arthur must venture back into the House - that surreal, unpredictable realm where he almost met his death.

With companions old and new, Arthur embarks on a heart-stopping adventure that will take him from the dismal Pit of the Far Reaches, all the way to the heart of a sun and back. Racing furiously against time, Arthur must find the second piece of the Will, claim the Second Key and save both his own world and the House from the destructive greed of Grim Tuesday.
After being pleasantly surprised by the first book in this series (Mister Monday), I very quickly borrowed this next book in the Keys to the Kingdom series, anxious to pick up where the story left off.

I have to confess though, that I was a little less enamoured with this book. It felt much darker, like Arthur was in much more danger than he was in the first book, although when I think back it is likely that they were on a par. Normally a bit of a darkness in a book doesn't bother me but I guess my foremost thought in relation to these books is that they are YA books, and as such, I expect that my son will be interested in reading these books, or ones similar, in the not too distant future.

Maybe it isn't the darkness that bothers me at all - after all, all three of these books that I have read now have a degree of darkness within them. Perhaps it is more that the pacing of the book was a bit off. One cannot help but admire Nix's very active imagination when it comes to the characters who inhabit the world inside the House, but during this novel there were, for me, times when the narrative dragged, before suddenly picking up the pace and setting off in a break neck speed in a quest to have Arthur claim the second Key, and the second part of The Will.

Arthur has only been back in Earth for twelve hours, when he receives a call on the special telephone telling him that he is required back in the House. Whilst Arthur has claimed dominionship over the Lower House by defeating Mister Monday in the first book, that also means that he has inherited all the responsibilities of Mister Monday, including all his debts and Grim Tuesday has decided that it is time for Arthur to pay. Unfortunately, Grim Tuesday is not only limiting himself to the world of the House, but also is also making claims in Arthur's world, so suddenly not only does he need to save the day again within the House, he has to do it in time to save his family, friends and indeed the world from financial ruin.

I guess in summary I would say that this wasn't a bad read, but it's not the best in the series in my opinion.

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Books and Other Thoughts

Arthur Penhaligon has a broken leg and a bad attack of asthma, but there's no time for recovery. Drowned Wednesday has sent a ship to pluck him from the safety of his bed, miles from any ocean, and sail him back to the House.

From hospital room to the high seas, Arthur must battle pirates, storms, monsters made of Nothing and a vast beast that can't stop eating. Arthur struggles to unravel the mystery of the Architect's disappearance, and the plotting of the Trustees. For the sake of all that dwell in the Secondary realms, he must discover the third part of the Will and claim the Third Key.

But first...can Arthur trust the Raised Rats? Where are Leaf and Suzy? And how will he survive life aboard ship on the treacherous Border Sea?

Drowned Wednesday is the third book in the Keys to the Kingdom series.
If I was a bit disappointed in Grim Tuesday, it is fair to say that I was delighted with this instalment in the Keys to the Kingdom series.

The book opens with Arthur in hospital again, having suffered another asthma attack and a broken leg. He has received an invitation from Lady Wednesday to come for tea, so despite the fact that in earth time he has only been back for a short time, he knows to expect that he will be going back into the House some time soon. What he doesn't know is how.

Unfortunately, the how happens whilst he is being visited by his good friend Leaf, and suddenly the two youngsters find themselves adrift on the Border Sea with only his hospital bed as a raft. When Leaf is accidentally taken aboard the ship that was supposed to take Arthur to Lady Wednesday, Arthur has to try and figure out a way to get to his tea, find Leaf and then get her back to his own world. Along the way, Arthur inadvertently causes some of the dreaded pirate Feverfew's treasure to be stolen, in the process making him a mortal enemy.

Part of the charm of this story for me was that a lot of the action was set in and around boats and ships, thereby allowing the introduction of many fun characters like the tattooed doctor whose tattoos displayed a different scene on his face depending on how he was feeling, and who helped Arthur with a cast that is made out of a crab's exoskeleton for his broken leg. There were also the Raised rats who can communicate instantaneously throughout the secondary realms but using their two way bottles, and Wednesday's Dawn who is most at home underneath the sea.

When it turns out that Lady Wednesday has been cursed, and so now she is actually a huge whale, Arthur's tea date seems destined to be anything but friendly. Now he needs to find the third part of the Will, free Leaf, defeat Feverfew and get back home.

There is an interesting twist in the end of this novel, which makes me want to read the next one sooner rather than later!

One thing that does have to be said at some point is that this is not a series that you can start half way through. The world building that is done within this novel if very much building onto what we already knew from the first books, and many of the same characters make appearances, or at least are mentioned.

Drowned Wednesday is one of the books that I nominated to read as part of the Once Upon a Time II Challenge!

Other blogger's thoughts:

Books and Other Thoughts

If you have read and reviewed either of these books, please let me know and I will put your link in this post.


  1. Cool I hope to read this series at some point. I loved the Abhorsen books and have a copy of The Fall by him in yet another series to read.

  2. Oh I absolutely ADORE Garth Nix. His Abhorsen series is among one of my all time favs (hence why I brought along Sabriel ofr the Desert Island Keeper game some of us gals are playing.) That trilogy was not written with the intention of it being a YA series. He actually said in an interview that it is really only marketed as YA in the USA.

    I run a summer book club for 6-8th grade students at my school. Last summer we read Mr Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will have to check out the rest of them soon. Thanks for the reminder! :)