Sunday, 7 March 2010

Drowned Wednesday by Garth Nix

June 2005, HarperCollins
390, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, fantasy

Cushions: 4
Daggers: 3
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 1
Yunaleska's recommended rating:♥♥♥♥

Summary from HarperCollins

On the third day, there were PIRATES! Arthur Penhaligon finds himself on an adventure that will pit him against pirates, storms, explosions and a vast beast that eats everything it encounters. Will our unwitting hero be able to find the third part of the Will and claim the Third Key? No rest for poor Arthur Penhaligon. As Grim Tuesday ends, he discovers a square of stiff cardboard under his pillow, gilt-edged and inscribed with the following words: LADY WEDNESDAY Trustee of the Architect and Duchess of the Border Sea has great pleasure in inviting ARTHUR PENHALIGON to a Particular Luncheon of Seventeen Removes Transport has been arranged RSVP not required… It’s an invitation he cannot refuse. From hospital room to the high seas, Arthur finds himself on an adventure that will pit him against pirates, storms, explosions of Nothing-laced gunpowder, and a vast beast that eats everything it encounters. Through it all, he is drawn deeper into the central mystery of the House. Arthur must find the third part of the Will and claim the Third Key – not just for himself, but for the millions (if not trillions) who will suffer if he doesn't. The first step? Surviving life aboard ship on the Border Sea…

The cover automatically gets my vote just for being purple. I had a theory about what might happen in the story for the ship, because of what happened in Grim Tuesday. So as not to spoil the story, I can't say what my theory was (check out My Thoughts on The Keys to the Kingdom Series for the actual theory), but I can say that I was half correct.

The whale illustration at the beginning of each chapter is only just marginally scarier than the bowler hats of Mister Monday. At the point in the story where I discovered the truth behind the whale, the illustration dropped to second place in the illustration scary scale. I felt sorry for the whale. having pointed teeth meant, for now, it couldn't drop to last place. If the bowler hats had teeth....that wouuld be a different matter.

Starting from where Grim Tuesday left off, I eagerly waited to see how Arthur would get to see Lady Wednesday. I gave a whoohoo when Leaf was dragged along too. At last my favourite character stars in the book for more than a few pages! I was more than a little annoyed when Leaf got separated from Arthur way too soon.

However, I was mollified by Arthur's broken leg. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but having broken an ankle a few years ago, I could all too readily relate to the discomfort that he suffered. He's a likeable character, yet it always helps when I can emphasize with a character in some way.

Arthur always ends up in trouble. Thieving wasn't a crime I'd match him t o, but anything can happen in the vicinity of the House so I shouldn't have been so surprised. It wasn't straight forward to get to Lady Wednesday, neither was it easy to bring her down.

It made a change for Lady Wednesday's Dawn minion was actually a pretty nice person. Yes, she was loyal to her mistress and the creature she changed into was so hideous that Arthur didn't want to look at her. Yet she cared about her mistress, she wasn't following orders because Wednesday was a bully, unlike the previous Dawns.

The subtle reference to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis was put in just the right spot. If only the denizens of the House were as literate as Arthur. Humour isn't always their forte.Although their squabbling can be entertaining.

Disliking being on a boat intensified the fear I had for Arthur during this third adventure. I waited eagerly for him to reach dry land. Not that his danger lessened then, but at least he was on solid ground. Having no foothold is a situation that I find worrying.

Having colds, coughs, flu etc as luxury items in the House always makes me smile. In real life, and in Arthur's world illness is never fun. If only we could give germs and viruses away as easily as they are exhanged in the House! I'd be very rich :)

My ears pricked up at the mention of haruspices - a way of telling the future often practiced in ancient Rome and Greece. Garth Nix's interpretation of this practice is as inventive as all his other ideas. I can safely say no animals were harmed in these haruspices.

I hadn't thought there could be more ways of communication in the house, but Simultaneous bottles are highly cool and I'd quite like some. It is details like these which make Garth Nix an author who can surprise the reader with both delights and horrors, sometimes both in the same page.I held my breath at every word when the doctor prepared Arthur's letter for posting. The description of how he did it was entertaining and for some reason it was one of my favourite parts of the book. Simple things amuse me.

Admittedly, for a reason I couldn't put my finger on, I didn't find all of the first half of the book as exciting as the other two. That all changed when I met Commodore Monckton, who is such a cute character! Not that I'd tell him that. He's quite a gentleman, which is funny considering the type of creature he is.

I think the different seas made me think of Peter Pan's Neverland (the Disney Version, original concept by J. M. Barrie). I did keep a lookout for fairies, or crocodiles, but none were forthcoming in this book. I can't say the same is true for the other books.

Also in the story: blue moons, watch birds, tea and tea cups, hilarious percentages.

Garth Nix has his own site here.

Want to read an extract of Drowned Wednesday? Click on the picture below.
Make sure you've read previous installments Mister Monday and Grim Tuesday.

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