Jacob Proffitt's Reviews > Tuesdays at the Castle

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
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Mar 22, 12

bookshelves: fantasy, owned, middle-grade
Recommended for: Anybody who likes a good story well-told.
Read on March 22, 2012 — I own a copy

I made the mistake of picking this up after midnight (not telling how far after midnight) to settle down a bit before bed. Four hours later (yes, I know, I'm actually kind of a slow reader—certainly compared to some) I finished the book with a sense of satisfaction that overrode the impending doom of waking in two hours to go to work.

This book is aimed at a bit younger audience than I usually read (middle grade?). I love YA novels and wouldn't dream of disparaging a book based on its target market, so don't take that as limiting or a condemnation. I note it as a way of highlighting how very well-written and engaging the book is. The protagonist, Celie, is 11 and the writing is about that grade level as well. I imagine that kids around that age, and a few years on either side, will find it a natural read. But the book is also completely accessible to older audiences, and even (if you're like me) captivating.

The central conceit of the novel, a magically sapient castle, is enchantingly drawn. Castle Glower, you see, chooses its own royalty. One royal council took a week of the butcher (I think. I don't have the book with me while writing this review) accidentally walking into their meetings before taking the hint and crowning him the next king. One heir found himself rejected because "he was a nincompoop." The current royal family—descendants of the former butcher—have come to truly love the castle and the youngest daughter, Celie, has developed a closer relationship to it than most. She has been working on her "atlas" for years and enjoys exploring new rooms and revising maps based on new additions and subtractions.

The book starts light (I laughed once per page, on average. I know because I kept track). We get to know Celie as her parents are leaving to attend the graduation of their oldest son in a city somewhat distant (the castle hinted he'd be a better wizard than heir so the second-oldest is heir). It doesn't take long, however, for dire events to catch up with Celie and her two siblings left home alone. I was so engaged in this part of the book that I only just now identify as a parent with similarly-aged kids who face danger while they're away from home. While reading, I was with the kids all the way and wanted to be with them as a peer rather than parental problem-solver. The Glower children, the oldest of whom left at home is 14, have to deal with diplomacy and tragedy and band together to fight off forces bent on taking over the kingdom using nothing but their wits, what they've learned from their parents, and what they know about the unique aspects of Castle Glower.

What follows is a ripping-good adventure story. And that, alone, would be enough to make this an excellent book. But Jessica Day George imbues the tale with additional wisdom, charm, and wit as the children try different tactics, work together, and learn to parse friend from foe. In the end, the story is about loyalty and love, teamwork and respect, betrayal and responsibility, and standing up to greed and malice even against forces that appear overwhelming.

I have no hesitation recommending this book to anybody who likes a good story. The characters are charming and that includes the castle. Rumor is that this is the first in a series and I fervently hope that is true.
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Reading Progress

03/22/2012 page 7
3.0%

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Melissa Proffitt Cordy has the second one, if you don't mind reading hardcopy.


message 2: by Francesca (new) - added it

Francesca Forrest What a fun-sounding story! And here's Goodreads acting the way it's supposed to, I guess: I saw you as someone who'd liked two book reviews I'd just liked (one by Hallie Donovan and one by Sherwood Smith), so I thought I'd check out books that you'd reviewed, and here we are--and I'll mark this to read. (Though my to-read pile feels rather staggering. But then again, I do slowly pick away at it.)


Jacob Proffitt Francesca wrote: "What a fun-sounding story! And here's Goodreads acting the way it's supposed to, I guess: I saw you as someone who'd liked two book reviews I'd just liked (one by Hallie Donovan and one by Sherwood Smith), so I thought I'd check out books that you'd reviewed, and here we are--and I'll mark this to read. (Though my to-read pile feels rather staggering. But then again, I do slowly pick away at it.)"

Awesome, isn't it? :) I love when that happens and I hope you enjoy the book.


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