Sunday, July 10, 2022

Thursdays with the Crown

Thursdays with the Crown
by Jessica Day George
Recommended Ages: 10+

Two princesses, two princes, a family friend and a pet griffin have been transported from their magical castle in the kingdom of Sleyne to an entirely different world, the world where their castle was built and from which it was transported some 400 years ago. They arrive to find a couple of towers where the castle's living magic doesn't respond to them, some ruins, and a poisoned wilderness inhabited mostly by wild griffins. And also, a couple of wizard who are mortal enemies. They come from rival cultures that all but wiped each other out in a war centuries ago, which is more or less why the castle moved to Sleyne. And neither of them is much help to the young people in their quest to get back home.

The longer they stay in the world of Arkower, or maybe it's Hathelocke (depends on whom you ask), the more the kids are convinced that nobody is telling them the truth. Both wizards are pretty much evil. The young royals and their growing retinue of young griffins are in constant danger, being threatened from both sides of a conflict older than their home country. Their adventures take them inside a hollowed-out mountain, into the burial mound of an ancient king, through the skies above a plague-ridden lake and the moment two royal griffin eggs hatch. They make surprising discoveries about each other and themselves, learn the whole horrible story of what happened between the two races of their castle's homeworld, and keep getting in worse and worse danger right up to, if not beyond, the moment they find a way home again. As I noticed with the previous two books in this series, it runs deeper and darker than the cover design would suggest.

To quote a bit from page 107:
"You know," Rolf said, "you read stories when you're little, and you think it would be so amazing to have adventures happen to you. Then you actually go on one, and find out that it's awful. Nothing but bad food, sleeping cold on the hard ground, and treachery."
But there's another side to it. There's the side that shows that magic has a sense of humor, and where, if the right people are involved, beautiful things can happen. The side that's learning to hope that something awesome could come of the growing understanding between Rolf, his sisters Celie and Lilah, their friends Pogue and Lulath, and the griffins. There is a warmth between the castle and Celie in particular. And little surprises, like the fact that seemingly silly Lulath, who is obsessed with fine clothes and tiny dogs, ends up calling his griffin Lorcan the Destroyer, may hint at character growth that will be interesting to follow in subsequent books. It's a fantasy concept that started simple (what if there was a magic castle) and continues, after three books, to branch out in unexpected directions.

This is the third "Castle Glower" book, following Tuesdays at the Castle and Wednesdays in the Tower. The series continues with Fridays with the Wizards and Saturdays at Sea. Jessica Day George is also the author of the "Dragon Slippers," "Rose Legacy" and "Princess of the Midnight Ball" trilogies, as well as the novels Silver in the Blood and Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

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