Sir Thursday (The Keys to the Kingdom)

by Garth Nix

Scholastic, March, 2006.
Hardcover, 344 pages.
ISBN: 0439700876
Ages 12 and up

Sir Thursday (The Keys to the Kingdom) by Garth Nix Arthur Penhaligon is having a tumultuous week. In his last adventure, Drowned Wednesday, the unfortunate Lady Wednesday died (she had been cursed never to stop eating everything in sight, eventually swallowing up entire cities) and handed over the Third Key to the Kingdom to Arthur as he is the Rightful Heir. After his harrowing adventure on the high seas, Arthur and his friend Leaf are more than ready to return to the normal world. But just as Arthur is leaving, Dame Prius (who is really a collection of the various parts of the Will that Arthur is slowly recovering) informs him that he can't go home because a positively revolting Spirit-eater called the Skinless Boy has taken Arthur's place and is slowly unleashing a mind plague on Britain. While figuring out how to defeat this newest threat, Arthur is drafted into the Army by Sir Thursday. The term of his enlistment is 100 years and there's nothing he can do about it. So while Arthur goes off to fight an army of invading Nithlings made of deadly Nothing (think anti-matter), Leaf must go back the normal world and try to defeat the Skinless Boy. Arthur must avoid having his memory totally wiped (SOP for new recruits), avoid dying in the middle of dangerous battles and then find some way to take the Fourth Key to the Kingdom from the monstrously tyrannical Lord Thursday.

One can only wonder what goes on inside Australian author Garth Nix's head. Just when you think you've figured out where a story is going, he turns all your theories upside down and heads off into a new, fascinating direction. Arthur is maturing quite nicely during his adventures, and the addition of Leaf is a welcome one. Garth Nix excels at creating fantastic worlds and imaginative adventures: he also manages to slyly sneak in a very funny satire of military life while he's at it. As the series progresses, it seems to grow progressively darker; the more that Arthur uses his newfound powers as the Rightful Heir the closer he comes to being a Denizen who will never be able to return to his own world and family. Next up is Lady Friday; it's going to be difficult to wait an entire year to find out what happens next.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the April, 2006 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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