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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Keys to the Kingdom: Lady Friday

Reviewed: October 27, 2009
By: Garth Nix
Publisher: Scholastic Books
304 pages, $7.99

Arthur Penhaligon would really rather not be the Rightful Heir to the 7 Keys of the Kingdom left behind by the missing Architect of all reality, Rather than working his way up the levels of the House, well on his way to being transformed into a mystically empowered Denizen, Arthur would like to be at home with his family in the Secondary Realm which is our world.

This is the fourth day, measured in our terms, of Arthur’s adventures in the House, although time runs differently there, so Arthur has been away for quite a long while as far as he’s concerned. He has defeated the plans of four of the Architect’s rogue Trustees and has reassembled four segments of the Architect’s Will.

He’s not altogether sure this is a good thing, since the Will, in its partial form, seems to have plans for him that align with a literal understanding of its terms rather than with any future Arthur might want.

In moving to confront Lady Friday, the next Trustee, he is up against a foe who is not only very crafty but also quite mad, having succumbed to a kind of addiction to human emotion, which she sucks from the memories of her sleeping captive subjects.

Trapped in an icy sub-world away from his allies, Arthur has to find a way to survive avoid the minions of the Piper, who claims to the the Rightful Heir, and make his way back to where he can carry on with his quest. He’d love to give that up, but it has become clear that the safety of his own secondary realm depends on his success in this quest.

This is not all Arthur’s story, Quite a bit of space is given to the adventures of Leaf, a friend from his home dimension who was swept into the House with him in the last book, and who was instrumental then in foiling a plot by Grim Thursday which would have prevented Arthur from ever going home. She’d been in a coma for a week after that struggle and had awakened in hospital, but at the beginning of this book she finds herself in a different ward, with only the vaguest notion of how she got there.

How the two get back together and how they foil the schemes of the mad Lady Friday, is a rollicking adventure.

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