October 3, 2014 by Heidi
Title: Tuesdays at the Castle [Goodreads]
Author: Jessica Day George [Website|Facebook]
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Standing: Castle Glower Book 1; can be read as a stand alone.
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Published: April 15th, 2014 by Recorded Books
Format: Audiobook; 6 hrs, 21 min.
Source: Review copy from publisher.
Tuesday at Castle Glower is Princess Celie’s favorite day. That’s when the Castle magically grows a new room, a turet, or sometimes an entire wing. No one knows how or why the Castle does it, and no one except Princess Celie has ever bothered to map out the Castle’s many twists and turns.
But when the king and queen disappear and Councilors from neighboring kingdoms arrive to “advise” the three Glower children, even the Castle seems to know that something is wrong … Take the new tower room, which is stocked with mysterious objects and has a knack for appearing just when Celie needs it. Then there is the secret passageway that leads the children to a room the Councilors don’t want them to know about.
To find their parents and hold on to their kingdom, Celie and her siblings will need all their ingenuity, Celie’s maps, plus some help from their beloved Castle—before it’s too late.
Oh friends, you know I am a sucker for setting as character and never has it been so strongly present as in Tuesdays at the Castle. Castle Glower is a main character in this book as assuredly as the royal children themselves. The rearranged and suddenly appearing rooms (that always seems as if they were really there all along) reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ House of Many Ways, though Castle Glower edges it out in my heart with its temperament. If the castle likes you your rooms will be lavish and cozy, however, if it doesn’t like you you’ll be lucky to hold onto a chamber pot. In our story, Princess Celie is the person in the kingdom with the greatest affinity for Castle Glower, and her unending faith in the building she loves helps her and her siblings to outwit and outmaneuver the most nefarious plots of adults and usurpers.
Simply stated, I adored this book. It has all of the makings of a classic children’s story while still obviously being new and fresh. Jessica Day George weaves her mystery and scandal in a way that is unraveled by us as readers in tandem with the Glower children themselves. She doesn’t spoon feed, she doesn’t hold hands, and–like Castle Glower–she makes the children work for themselves in order to achieve their full potential. It is a story steeped in political machinations of the type that will make future fantasy and historical fiction fans of its readers, wrapping them in a web of intrigue and covert danger.
Tuesdays at the Castle is a story of siblings coming together in the face of potential tragedy, highlighting one of my favorite aspects of middle grade–family. I love that each of the Glower children is very different, with their strengths highlighted regardless of sex or birth order as one might expect of a royal family. The eldest brother is not chosen as the heir, but rather finds his talents in wizardry while the second son, Rolph, is groomed for the throne. Celie acts as somewhat of a liaison with the castle as she strives to map it, and her sister, Lilah, though a more traditional and practical princess remains down to earth and willing to work. The Glower children never have any questions of loyalties or trust with one another and wisely use their beloved castle to its best advantage when disaster strikes. If some of their plotting is laughable and adorably naive to us adult readers, it is understandably diabolical by kid standards.
Narrator Suzy Jackson couldn’t have been more perfect for the role as she brings Castle Glower and its inhabitants to life. Yes I’m a sucker for a British accent (particularly when paired with adorable middle grade titles), but Jackson’s voice also held that perfectly balanced inflection and tenor that makes for good narration of young characters without making them sound babyish or out of place. I know without a doubt that I will be looking to listen to the rest of this series as it releases, as I do tend to latch onto the audio format of any series whose production I adore.
Though Tuesdays at the Castle is the first in a series, it can be read as a stand alone–thank you, Jessica Day George! It is charming, optimistic, and all together fun in a way that will make it beloved by both children and adults for years to come. It is quirky and unique, and a beautifully crafted tale of magic, family, and hope. I highly recommend the audio as a fun family listen!
Likelihood that I’ll be back for more: Folks, I’ve been meaning to read Jessica Day George–both her YA and MG–for years. After the resounding success that was Tuesdays at the Castle I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon!
Recommended for: Fans of Diana Wynne Jones, any lover of Middle Grade fantasy.
Get a second opinion:
Random Musings of a Bibliophile – “The magic of Castle Glower isn’t explained and doesn’t need to be, it simply is.”
Good Books and Good Wine – ” Middle grade fans, get on this wonderful book.”