BOOK REVIEW: Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom #1) by Garth Nix

This review does not contain spoilers.

IMG_5923Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then he is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.

Arthur is safe—but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with blood-stained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back—even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.

Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house—a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key—and discover his true fate.

I remember first reading Mister Monday in about 2005 but, apart from asthma, a girl named Leaf, and a clock hand, I couldn’t remember much of the story. Thankfully, Garth Nix’s novel still managed to entertain me after a decade.

The main character, Arthur Penhaligon, is realistic and interesting. Despite him behaving appropriately for a 12-year-old, he doesn’t come across as childish to me. Although he’s (understandably) annoyed at being a pawn in a greater game, Arthur has his own reasons for completing the task and accepts his role with endearing optimism, trying to take every new and strange event in his stride.

Each major and minor character in the sprawling cast possesses a distinct individual voice and personality. More importantly, each character is a complex creation with no one (except perhaps Arthur) being exclusively good or evil.

With a nod to elements of Greek mythology, Christian ethics, and popular fairy tales, Garth Nix has created a world where the written word can quite literally come to life and almost anything can happen. The hints of things to come in the series already have me wanting more.


The verdict

Mister Monday is a fun read. Though the youth of the character and the intended audience is evident, I still found myself enjoying it. I was definitely able to discern more from the references than I did on my first reading 10 years ago, bringing new life to a familiar world.


Goodreads | Book Depository


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