Friday, May 10, 2013

Backlist files - "Tuesdays at the Castle"

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a child.  I was a child that loved reading, and loved anything to do with reading, and stories, and that included television shows about my favorite stories.  There existed, a long time ago, a show of fairy tales whose name I have long since forgotten.  I do remember, however, bits and pieces of the stories it told me.  One particular detail that always stuck out for me was a magic castle that would disappear and reappear in another place altogether, a castle that was enchanted so that only very special people could find it.  Why this one story element has continued to rattle around my head for *mumblemumble* years, I don’t know, but I was reminded again of this magic castle when I picked up Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle.  The castle in question here pulled no disappearing acts, but had plenty of magic of its own.

Celie, Lilah and Rolf are the royal children of King Glower the Seventy-Ninth and his wife the Queen, and all are occupants of Castle Glower, a magical, self-adjusting castle that puts Hogwarts’ moving staircases to shame.  Celie, especially, has a special relationship with the castle, and has worked tirelessly to create an atlas of its ever changing hallways.  When tragedy befalls the royal family and enemies beset its halls, the children must call upon Castle Glower to help them escape the machinations of the vicious Prince Khelsh.

This book is actually quite constrained, taking place exclusively inside the walls of Castle Glower, but it feels like a sprawling adventure.  That is the magic of the castle, and of Ms. George’s writing.  There is always some new passageway or trap door to sneak through, as the castle aids Celie and her siblings in their campaign against the malicious intruders.  Think Home Alone, but on a much bigger scale.  The castle shows its approval and disapproval of its occupants by the size and luxury (or lack thereof) of their rooms, and isn’t beyond messing with bathroom privileges either.  Celie, Lilah and Rolf are the perfect children for this castle.  They are brave, resourceful and kind, which makes it very easy to root for them to win the day.  But really, Castle Glower is the star of this book.  I dare you to read it and not dream just a little about wandering the castle’s ever-changing topography.

The sequel, Wednesdays in the Tower, has just been released, and I will be first in line to give it a go.

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
2011, Bloomsbury
Personal copy

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