The Keys to the Kingdom: Grim Tuesday

Reviewed: July 16, 2004
By: Garth Nix
Publisher: Scholastic Books
321 pages, $8.99

When we left Arthur Penhaligon he had just put through the toughest few days of his life. He had discovered that there was a mystic world of power and danger right next doors to ours, in which he was a major player in machinations designed to capture control, or free the Will, of the Creator. Time does not work quite the same in the two worlds, and Arthur's long succession of Mondays there translated into only one day here. He had thought he might get to rest a bit before anything else happened, but just as sure as Tuesday follows Monday, Arthur's next adventure arrived almost immediately.

Grim Tuesday seems, if anything, to be a more difficult opponent than Mister Monday had been. Indeed, it appears in this book that Tuesday's acquisitive ways may be the force which has been weakening the underpinnings of the House, as the other world is known.

Grim Tuesday saps the very lives and physical stature of the people he controls, and uses his slaves to mine the “nothing” from which everything can be made. Then he converts it into derivative manufactured goods which the other Days acquire from him.

Because he controls such a key resource, Grim Tuesday has a lot of power and influence with the other Days. Monday may have been defeated and forced to surrender his key to Arthur, but the other Days are determined that this upstart mortal from a lesser reality will not be able to assist the Creator's Will in restoring the balance within the House and in the adjacent realms. They ally themselves with Tuesday in a legalistic bid to make Arthur responsible for the unpaid debts of the defeated Mister Monday.

In brief, Tuesday threatens Arthur's home reality yet again, Last time it was disease. This time it seems to be an attempt to control the real estate and the good fortune of anyone connected to Arthur in any way. As Arthur's life begins to fall apart he realizes he will have to find a way to enter the House once again and take on the next part of the quest he never wanted in the first place.

Nix has created an amusing and intriguing mythology, incorporating bits and pieces from fantasy literature and myths. There is a touch of Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast) in his work, and it sometimes reminds me of both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

I'm certainly looking forward to the remaining five books in this series. For Arthur, it's going to be a long week.