I heard about this one from Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library over a year ago. It sounded delightful from the start, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to actually locate it on the library shelves and check it out. At least I can console myself with the knowledge that the sequel, Wednesdays in the Tower is coming out in May, so I won’t have too long to wait.
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.
Welcome to Castle Glower, a magical castle that changes itself regularly, usually on Tuesdays. It redecorates, creates new rooms, and moves other ones around at will. It’s an intelligent castle, and the people of the kingdom are used to heeding its advice on who should rule the kingdom. The current king has four children, and the castle made it clear, by filling the oldest brother’s room with astrolabes and other wizardly tools, that he should train to be a wizard, while Rolf, the next youngest son’s room was moved closer to the throne room, as an indication that he would be the next king. Celie, the youngest of the bunch, has a close understanding with the castle, and her ongoing project is creating an atlas of the castle, trying to keep it up-to-date as the castle constantly reinvents itself. Lilah, the older girl, does not so far seem to have any castle-prescribed destiny, but while of an age to start being interested in boys, avoids Susanish tendencies. I introduce the characters first because I loved them so much (the castle counts as both character and setting here), but the plot kicks off quite nicely, too. The king and queen go off to fetch their oldest son home from Wizard School, but the carriage is ambushed on the way back. After a very brief search, the king, queen and prince are all declared dead. The three children left at home don’t believe it – surely the castle would let Rolf know if he were king – but the council believes otherwise and forces the children to hold a funeral. An unwelcome guest at the funeral who refuses to leave afterward, the sinister Prince Khelsh makes it clear that he has plans to become the next king of Glower himself. As the council appears to have turned traitorous (for reasons that are never gone into), it’s up to the three children, with help from the Castle, to save the castle and find their parents. Their only dubious magical power is Celie’s bond with the castle, which means it’s up to the three of them to come up with their own plans as well as following the lead from the clues the castle gives them. I enjoyed it heartily (even more than Princess of the Midnight Ball), felt certain that my elementary-aged self would have adored it, and very much hope to share it with my eight-year-old – either reading it to him or having him read it to me – sometime in the near future.