52. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Publication: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (October 11, 2011), ARC paperback, 232pp / ISBN 1599906449
Genre: MG Fantasy, Adventure
Read: June 4, 2011
Source: BEA 2011 (from the Bloomsbury booth, which I kept circling around like a creepy circling thing)
This book will be released on October 11, 2011.
Summary from Amazon:
Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie’s favorite days. That’s because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it’s up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle’s never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.
How have I never read a Jessica Day George book before? Have you all been hiding her from me? Do you want to hoard her books for yourself, is that it?
I can understand the inclination. Reading Tuesdays at the Castle felt a little like reading my first Diana Wynne Jones book. There’s that tingle of suspected wonderfulness on the first page. The growing realization that, yes, this book really is wonderful. And the the immensely satisfying conclusion where you’ve finished the book so you’re a little bit sad, but you know there’s a whole heap of other books by the same author out there just waiting for your nose to be shoved into them. All in all, that’s one of my favorite reading experiences! Plus I always know that when that happens, the author is something special I should be paying attention to.
So. Tuesdays at the Castle. Let’s talk about why it’s wonderful.
First: it has princesses and castles and royal drama and lots of magic. These are things I really like! Also it has action and adventure and the castle is alive (but not in a creepy way).
Second: the characters, especially the royal family, are exactly the sort of people I’d like ruling over me if I was living in a monarchy instead of democracy. They sort of remind me of the Narnia kids, only without a pre-Witch Edmund. They’re good and kind and very forthright, but they’re also not only those things. For the most part they’re stiff-upper-lip strong, but, being kids, they still have moments of being otherwise. The mix was done very well, I thought, and made them seem more real.
The villains even had depth! Well, sort of. Some of the villains had depth, and some of them didn’t. But I bet if this were a longer book the villains would have gotten some more layers; that’s just the sort of author JDG seems to be. She gives everyone a fair chance.
Third: speaking of “if the book were longer”– the story was exactly the length it needed to be. It wasn’t too long and it wasn’t too short, and though it’s part of a new series there wasn’t an annoying cliffhanger at the end. The pacing was perfect, basically, and I never felt like stuff was being left out or skipped over to save page length.
Fourth: the world of Tuesdays (outside of the castle) was just hinted at, but, honestly, that didn’t bother me. The important part of the story was the castle, which is an amazing place, and longer descriptions about the outside world can wait for another book. I am interested in knowing more about it! But it wasn’t overly necessary in this book, I think.
So, to sum up: I adored this book. I loved everything about it. I don’t think JDG was a step out of place anywhere, and that’s a more rare thing that you’d think. Do you like MG fantasy books? Yes? Then you seriously need to read Tuesdays at the Castle. I’m telling you this for your own good: listen to me! Do as I say! You won’t regret it.
It’s fantastic! Read it ASAP.
Honestly, Diana Wynne Jones was an author unto herself so I’m probably never going to find a full-on DWJ clone, but I can’t help looking for almost-DWJ authors to fill the void once I’ve read all of DWJ’s stuff. I know it’s not going to be the same whoever I find, but, well. Sigh.
Some other authors that are sort of like DWJ: Susan Cooper, Diane Duane, Jenny Nimmo, Garth Nix, Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia C. Wrede. Anyone have any other suggestions?
Also, JDG has a list of her favorite books and a lot of them are MY favorite books, too! In fact, almost all the ones I haven’t read yet are ones I’ve been meaning to read, anyway…