Sunday, 28 February 2010

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

2004, Harper Collins
448 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, Fantasy

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 3
Smiles: 5
Tissues: 2
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥+

Summary from Harper Collins (cover image downloaded from the same page).

Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues. Seven sins. One mysterious house is the doorway to a very mysterious world – where one boy is about to venture and unlock a number of fantastical secrets. Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is supposed to die an early death. But then his life 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 bloodstained 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 escapes to the mysterious house that has appeared in town – a house that only he can see. Maybe there he can unravel the secrets of the key – and discover his true fate.

I ask forgiveness before beginning the review. When I read Arthur's full name, Arthur Penhaligon, all I could think of was Arthur Pendragon from Merlin. I thought that I would expect the teenage Merlin to appear on the pages every now and then, at least in my imagination. I can safely say after the first chapter this thought fled my mind.

I have read books by Garth Nix before - only I did put them back down because Mogget freaked me out and I had a very bad nightmare about it. After reading Mister Monday, I actually want to go back and give the Old Kingdom series another shot. Mogget is still evil (although my cousin reassures me I'll understand Mogget once I read the entire series), but not as evil as the sn*ke's which crop up in Mister Monday.

On a side note, I like the minute hand illustrations at the bottom of each page. It's a good reminder of what the story is about. It's also fun to flip through the book really fast, watching the illusion of the illustrations getting longer across the page.That kept me amused for several minutes.

Anyway, moving away from the small parts of book that are entertaining to this reviewer, I like Arthur, when I'm not pairing him up with Merlin. I like how he isn't perfect, he suffers from asthma. I predict over the course of his adventures the asthma will both help and hinder him. I wonder if he will get inventive with the inhaler? I approved of the Tintin reference.

I like it that his friends are misfits - I don't think many others in the class would have the right personality to help Arthur out. (As I read further on, unfortunately these two friends in particular don't feature much in Mister Monday, but I'm still holding on to the hope they'll have a more significant role in the other books. The characters which end up being his sidekicks have a lot of personality, and are far from being dull). It was cool how Arthur and Leaf could see things that others couldn't. I wondered if Ed felt a little left out, but he really wasn't missing out on anything. Sometimes it can be a blessing not to see horrifying people

The key initially gave me the wiggins. While it's true nature was unknown, I feared that it might be evil. I knew it would bring Arthur a lot of trouble. I didn't think it could be such a help to Arthur. *This reviewer is taking a short break to go starry eyed as to what happened at the end with the key (for details read on)*.

I'm back :) Glowing objects are always interesting. The place Arthur keeps the Key and Atlas is pretty cool. Its even cooler when it comes to life and protects Arthur. Flying, funny looking people in scary bowler hats aren't visitors I'd want at night. The hat illustration in every chapter freaked me out a little bit. I might have to cover them with funky stickers. I'm sort of hoping that they don't appear in the other books.

I'm wondering whether the House was near to where Arthur lived because he had the Key. Perhaps wherever he lived, it would have appeared nearby. I like it how Arthur is almost the only one who can see it. It truly is amazing what people will ignore if they don't want to see things.

There were very few occasions when I settled into my seat - I spent over half the book perched on the edge, becoming more horrified at what was happening to Arthur.There was hardly any respite for him, and the stakes rose with every turn of the page.

Suzy accurately sums up the situation when she says pg 194 "A deluded green frog, one mortal visitor and a Ink-Filler Sixth Class ain't much up against Mister Monday and the whole apparatus of the Lower House." They aren't, not when referred to like that. With other skills, however...they stand a chance.

The concept behind why the Keys were created is one way of limiting chaos in the human world. What is actually inside the House is inventive, I like all the names for both places and people. There are even creatures as scary as the dogmen with bowler hats. And scarier ones. It's definitely not the same world as ours.

I almost sensed the mud splatter up from the page in the final fight - the imagery here was most vivid. The entire story had me swept away with new, terrifying concepts and ideas. Arthur took most things in his stride, being afraid a lot of the time, but also finding inner strength to keep on fighting.

COOLNESS! The end result is absolutely amazing! It was a nice twist and I'm eager to read Grim Tuesday just to see how Arthur will wield his new...tool and also what will happen when he goes back home. I'm wondering if time might get distorted a little, as the Will indicated it might. The Will...which has it's own agenda, ends up being different forms, and is not entirely happy with the end result. But it's a result that Arthur is happy with, which is all that matters. The situation is far from the other six books will tell.

Garth Nix can be found on his website here.

Like this? Then keep watching this space, for I shall post reviews to the next book, Grim Tuesday, shortly.

Click on the link below the front cover down here, and it will take you to read an extract.

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Krispy said...

I LOVE this series! I started Mister Monday at the same time as the Percy Jackson series, and I have to say, this series won out. I zoomed through it, and only recently did I finally finish the Percy Jackson series. I can't wait for the last book in the Keys series to come out this year!

I hope you do return to the Abhorsen trilogy. Mogget IS scary, but he's one of my favorite characters in the series, and if it makes you feel better, he doesn't figure as much in Books 2 and 3. Sabriel is my favorite book though. :)

Nayuleska said...

I'll definitely have a go at Sabriel again. I think I may have read part of book 2, but was too scared!

Haven't tried the Percy Jackson books yet, but I'll put them on my list :)

Keys is out in a few days in the UK (as long as I didn't get my dates muddled up!)