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Book Review: Mister Monday by Garth Nix

TL;DR: Mister Monday, the first book in Garth Nix's The Keys to the Kingdom fantasy series is an extraordinary fantasy novel of competing agendas, time-bending experiences, and mysteriously fatal epidemics. 

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

Genre: Middle grade fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Year Published: 2006
Format: Audiobook (Listening Library)
Source: Library
Link: Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom #1) (Goodreads)

Arthur Penhaligon’s first days at his new school don’t go too well, particularly when a fiendish Mister Monday appears, gives Arthur a magical clock hand, and then orders his gang of dog-faced goons to chase Arthur around and get it back. But when the confused and curious boy discovers that a mysterious virus is spreading through town, he decides to enter an otherworldly house to stop it. After meeting Suzy Blue and the first part of “the Will” (a frog-looking entity that knows everything about the House), Arthur learns that he’s been selected as Rightful Heir to the House and must get the other part of the clock hand in order to defeat Monday. That means getting past Monday’s henchmen and journeying to the Dayroom itself. Thankfully, Arthur is up to the challenge, but as he finds out, his fight seems to be only one-seventh over.”

From the book description on Goodreads

What I thought of Mister Monday

For whatever reason, I read a ton of mystery novels in October. After a steady diet of mysteries, I felt the need to read something different, and picked up Mister Monday, the first in Garth Nix’s The Keys to the Kingdom fantasy series.

The opening episode in the series follows the adventures of Arthur Penhaligon, whose first day at his brand new school is marred by a mile-run. Arthur didn’t realize that was going to happen, so brought the wrong shoes. Worse, the run triggers his asthma, and nearly kills him.

That near-death experience launches an extraordinary fantasy novel of competing agendas, time-bending experiences, and mysteriously fatal epidemics. I’m always a little nervous when I listen to middle grade novels as audiobooks, because so many narrators read them in sleepy bedtime story voices. Thankfully, Allan Corduner is not one of them. He reads Arthur’s story in a lively style with distinct, but not distracting, voices for each of the various characters. I’m looking forward to hearing more of this series.

Who would enjoy Mister Monday?

  • Anyone looking for a fantasy series suitable for middle grade readers

About Garth Nix

Garth Nix’s Goodreads biography makes several remarkable claims:

  • Nix was born to the dulcet tones of a Salvation Army band playing “Hail the Conquering Hero Comes” (or was it “Roll Out the Barrel”?)
  • At the age of nineteen, Nix exchanged his life in Australia for a more peripatetic one in the UK. His primary possessions during this period were a beat-up Austin, a trunk full of books, and a Silver-Reed typewriter. Garth persisted in this lifestyle long after the wheels fell off his Austin.
  • His first attempt at being a full-time writer in 1998 convinced Nix that full-time writing is directly responsible for the bulk of the weird behavior he has observed in his fellow writers. Nevertheless, working as a literary agent for a few years convinced Nix to give full-time writing another try in 2002.

(Bio adapted from Garth Nix’s Goodreads author page.)

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