Look! A book review! This was nominated for the Cybils in a series that I was going to read anyway.
Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014.
This is the third book in the series that started with Tuesdays at the Castle, which I really enjoyed. At the end of the second book, Wednesdays in the Tower, our heroine, the young princess Celie and her baby griffin, along with her brother Rolf, sister Lilah, and the visiting Prince Lulath, were all transported in towers from the castle back to the country that it now appears the Castle originally came from. But if they thought that travelling to the other country would resolve everything right away, they are mistaken. There are many hints about the castle’s past – including large griffin stables – but the countryside around seems largely empty. They set out to look for the broken pieces of the Eye of the Castle anyway. In separate places near the castle, they meet two old wizards, each of whom hates the other and claims to be doing his best to save the Castle and its legacy. People used to bond with the royal griffins, but the local lads are now all failing to do so. It will take detective work and getting out of some very sticky situations for our royal siblings and Prince Lulath to save the Castle. There is adventure, mystery, and riding on griffins!!!
This is a fine fantasy, light enough in tone to work for younger and sensitive readers while exciting enough to engage more kids. Unfortunately, I just didn’t love it as much as I did the first book. The days of the week in the title are now just part of the series name – there’s nothing really related to Thursday happening here – and the living Castle plays a much less active role than it did in the previous books. Both of those changes took some of the sparkle out of the series for me, even though I still enjoyed the other characters’ interactions. Really, as my fellow Cybils panelist Sherry over at Semicolon pointed out, Prince Lulath steals the show here, with his silly, flowery way of talking that nevertheless manages to say deep things. Overall, even though it’s not quite as fun as the first books, fans will want to keep reading, and newcomers really should start at the beginning. I’ll still read the next book myself, and hope that things improve.