Books Review: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
For some reason, I’ve been hitting a string of great juvenile fantasy literature lately. The planets must be aligned right or something. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George was recommended to me by Amazon.com when I discovered The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell. I loved The Princess Curse and thought I would give Tuesdays at the Castle a try. It sounded cute on the blurb. The book was great. Not quite fantastic enough to knock The Princess Curse out of my favorite book of the year (or at least the last few months) spot, but good enough that reading it was a pleasure.
Castle Glower is alive. It can move its own walls, reshape rooms, and build towers by itself. If the castle likes you, then you are in luck. If it dislikes you, then you better watch out. The castle is a confusing, twisting maze and Princess Celie is out on a mission to map the whole place. Then tragedy strikes and the King and Queen are killed. Now Celie’s older brother Rolf must become King but things aren’t always what they seem. With foreign princes and a traitorous council lurking around, can the Glower children protect their home and find their missing parents at the same time?
Is it bad when my favorite character in a story isn’t even a real person? I don’t think so. In Tuesdays at the Castle it is the castle the reader ends up falling in love with. There is a touch of the moving stairways idea from the Hogwarts castle in the story but if you tilt your head a little you won’t even care. The castle ends up being the funniest character in the book, sending people around in circles and having a habit of hiding passageways to important rooms in closets. You can even end up in the kitchen by stepping through a window. I don’t recommend you trying this if you are one of the people the castle does not like.
The castle does not like Vhervhish Prince Khelsh. (The book is full of nonsense names. The type only pronounceable by the person who made them up; namely, the author. The reader just has to guess.) In fact, Castle Glower is in great dislike for a lot of people. The guest rooms for Prince Khelsh are small, damp, and badly furnished. A sure sign that the castle does not like you and that you are up to no good. Princess Celie and her siblings soon find out exactly what the foreign prince and the council is up to and it certainly is no good. They are trying to pressure Rolf into becoming a puppet king and signing away the kingdom to Khelsh, at which point the Glower children are sure the evil doers will get rid of Rolf altogether. With the help of the castle and their friend Pogue, Celie and her siblings manage to hold out and protect their home.
The story is lighthearted. The Glower children mostly fight the evil prince and council with tricks and pranks that are assisted by the castle. This is a kid’s book, people; there isn’t a lot of focus on the very serious fact that Celie and her siblings are in the middle of a coup. The King and Queen come back alive and Castle Glower saves the day because Princess Celie is its favorite person ever. It is a treat to have the castle itself be a character, in much the same way that Hogwarts was a personality onto itself in Harry Potter. I feel a touch bad for having the castle be my favorite character when all the Glower children are quite enjoyable.
The story is simple and funny. It’s a touch slow in places, for my taste, but not boggy. The characters are interesting and relatable. The plot is pretty obvious except for one event but I don’t want to spoil the book by telling you! Suffice to say, Castle Glower is the most badass castle around and don’t you forget it. The somewhat standard fairytale plot kept this book from being top tier but don’t let that keep you away. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George is a fresh, cute story that was a pleasure to read.