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Mister Monday by Garth Nix

Mister Monday is the first book in Garth Nix’s The Keys to the Kingdom series for young adults (see the bottom of this post for a list of the other books in the series).  I’ve read the novel several times and now that the final book has been released, I plan to read through them all to refresh my memory.

The plot:  our Earth (I think anyway that it’s OUR Earth) is one of the chiefest Secondary Realms created by the Architect.  True time runs in the House, almost a universe in itself, which was intended by the Architect to record all that happened in the many Secondary Realms without interfering.  At some time in the past, the Architect disappears, leaving a Will under the control of seven Trustees (of which Mister Monday is one).  At an appointed time, an Heir must be found and the Trustees’ powers must be relinquished.  Instead, the Trustees break up the Will, hide the pieces so that no one can find them, ignore its tenets, retain control of their domains in the House, and begin to effect the Secondary Realms (each of the Days agree to divide the worlds — Mister Monday of the Lower House, for example, is permitted can reach out on any Monday).

The first piece of the Will is sentient and after thousands of years manages to escape.  Its first task is to name an Heir to find the remaining pieces and wrest the Keys from the Trustees.  The person it selects is Arthur Penhaligon, a junior high-aged boy from our world (again, I think).

Arthur must quickly figure out what is happening, enter the House, and save his family from the Sleepy Plague, a virus spread by contamination of some of the denizens of the House sent by Monday.  And, incidentally, the only way to do so is to follow the Will’s direction.

The book is very well written and seems to be very consistent in its ideas.  Each Trustee supervises a part of the house with a specific purpose — Monday is in charge of the Lower House, largely concerned with bureaucracy, contracts, and files.  Each Trustee has also fallen into one of the Seven Deadly Sins — Monday’s vice is sloth, which has essentially caused the Lower House to back up with paperwork.  There are key servants for each of the Days:  a Dawn, Noon, and Dusk.

Interesting characters abound including the Old One, a Prometheus of sorts who is imprisoned in the lower coal mines for an undisclosed sin against the Architect.

With its conceit of a House at the center of the universe it reminds me a bit of The High House by James Stoddard (which I recommend highly).

The one quibble I have is that the main character, who is very likable, is almost too competent and clever.  I wish that he had a few more flaws, rather than merely physical ones (asthma) which he cannot help.

The books in the series:

  1. Mister Monday
  2. Grim Tuesday
  3. Drowned Wednesday
  4. Sir Thursday
  5. Lady Friday
  6. Superior Saturday
  7. Lord Sunday

4 1/2 out of 5 stars (finished December 2, 2010)

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  1. December 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm
  2. January 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm

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