Celie's favorite day is Tuesday, because that is the day when her father the king hears petitions, which is, admittedly, a bit boring. And when the castle where they live grows bored, it tends to grow a new room or two, or possibly a brand-new staircase leading somewhere Celie's never been before. She adores the castle and its mysterious ways, and she charts out its rooms and passages as they come and go. And the castle appears to have a particular affection for her, too.
The entire kingdom loves the castle because it chooses their rulers, and it makes excellent choices. When books and astrolabes began appearing in her older brother's room, and her younger brother's room was moved closer to the throne room, King Glower lost no time in declaring his younger son heir, and sent his older son off to the College of Wizardry.
When Celie's oldest brother is about to graduate from college, the king and queen set off to attend the graduation. Celie is incensed that she is not allowed to go. Matters take a turn for worse when her parents disappear and are soon presumed dead, and the castle becomes overrun with strangers from neighboring lands who appear to have their own agenda, an agenda that does not include the crown prince actually ruling their land. Celie and the castle form a formidable team, along with her siblings, but it soon becomes apparent that there is only so much that the castle can do against such opposition.
This is a thoroughly delightful book, and reading it made me wonder why on earth I've waited so long to read a book by Jessica Day George. My younger daughter fell in love with the Dragon Slippers series when she was nine or ten, and I've been meaning to give it a try for ages. Celie is a feisty, intelligent heroine, definitely not a girly-girl princess in need of rescuing. I enjoyed the interplay between her and her siblings, as well as the swoon-worthy Pogue, a character I hope to see more of in subsequent books in this series.
Yes, this is the first book in a series, but it does function perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, with events wrapping up quite satisfactorily. I admit am growing tired of all the series I must perpetually keep up with these days, but the castle is so fascinating and fun that I know I'll be pleased when the sequel is published. My only issue with the book is the fact that, given the powers the castle is described as possessing, matters spiral out of control in a way that the castle clearly could have dealt with neatly and effectively right at the beginning. Which wouldn't have given us a terribly interesting story, so I was quite happy to suspend my disbelief and sit back and enjoy this funny, exciting tale.
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, 2011)
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Bird Brain(ed) Book Blog: "I adored this book. I loved everything about it. I don’t think JDG was a step out of place anywhere, and that’s a more rare thing that you’d think."
Jen Robinson's Book Page: "Tuesdays at the Castle is tremendously kid-friendly, with a fun setting, engaging (if not fully realistic) characters, and an action-packed plot."
Small Review: "I am a fawning, pom-pom waving fangirl for Jessica Day George, and Tuesdays at the Castle just reminded me again why. Somehow she always manages to spin a cotton candy confection of fluffy happy goodness with a captivating plot, endearing characters, and seriously bad villains."