Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Grim Tuesday

by Garth Nix


In the second part of The Keys To The Kingdom Arthur faces Grim Tuesday, the keeper of the second key. Tuesday holds a more powerful key than Monday's, and has found a way to take possession of the first key, and all that goes with it, as well. Arthur has only a short time to stop him.

Unfortunately young Arthur has stranded himself in the real world with no key, no denizens of the House to help him out, and no idea what to do and where to go. He's keen to go back to living a normal life, but even the dullest child should realise that this is unlikely to happen. Tuesday has sent his servants to call in all of his debts, even on Earth. That means Arthur could lose his home, his father could lose his job, and a full-blown financial crisis is breaking out as stock markets crash around the world.

Mister Monday was lazy, but Grim Tuesday is the embodiment of Greed. He's a slave-driver who has countless indentured servants working for him in a vast Pit. Huddled and miserable, they are mistreated, branded or tagged, and left in constant fear of Grim's overseers. Miserable and ill-equipped, they work long hours in darkness and fog in order to mine Nothing. The air is filled with pollution, which they have to pay to breathe, and the excavations they are making threaten the very foundations of the House. It's like a nightmare of the Industrial Age, a concentrated version of all of the horrors and dangers of heavy industry and poverty.

Grim Tuesday is the only one who really enjoys the fruits of everyone's hard work, creating objects out of Nothing and hoarding his treasures. As he did with Mister Monday, Garth Nix has let his imagination off the leash and come up with some strange characters and scenes. Who else would have thought of writing about a sentient eyebrow, or a world caught in a bottle? Arthur meets familiar characters such as Suzy Turquoise Blue, as well as some new ones such as Tom the Mariner, and none of the new arrivals are stock characters or lacking in personality. The Second Clause of the Will is about as different from the first as it could possibly be. Although Grim Tuesday is not as much of an entirely new concept as the first book in the series is, it keeps its freshness by taking Arthur through a host of new experiences and challenges.

This is an easy to understand, quirky adventure that you'll want to read in one sitting. Garth Nix has been ambitious with the universe he has created, and unafraid to deal with some bold themes. He seems to be promising an awful lot with this series, because what it really seems to be about is corruption, the seven deadly sins, and the nature of evil. Throw in a few religious and literary references and this novel is in danger of becoming pretentious. But Nix has avoided that trap so far by making Arthur and Suzy down-to-earth and likeable in the face of any amount of weirdness, and by keeping the action fast and furious. Grim Tuesday may be dark in places, but it's a story that taps a rich vein of pure gold.

Book Details

Year: 2004

Categories: Books

  YA     Fantasy
  Male Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
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