Science fiction and fantasy
by Garth Nix
Arthur's own parents died of a highly contagious disease, so he's adopted. When another infection breaks out soon after some otherworldly creatures are sent to hunt him down to make him give up the key he knows that something's very wrong. Without a cure from outside the normal world, he's afraid that everyone he knows will die.
Whilst the idea of a modern-day child travelling to a fantastic otherworld is not uncommon, Mister Monday is still downright weird. Arthur enters a realm where things can be created from Nothing, which is like the raw material of the universe, and everything was originally created by an Architect. The Architect has gone, leaving her instructions in the form of a Will and her creation in the care of a number of Trustees. These beings may have hints of religious origins, but it's far too simplistic to see them simply as angels, devils and gods. Garth Nix has borrowed elements from Greek myth and from religion, but for the most part the setting is all his own. Arthur enters a large old house with Tardis-like dimensions and connections to many different times and "Secondary Realms", places such as our world. But the house itself is in disorder, affected by an atmosphere of decadence that's set in from above as those in charge don't seem to want to take care of anything.
The fanciful nature of this story suggests that it's aimed at a slightly younger audience than books such as Sabriel. But to get the most out of this novel it helps to understand the references, especially to stories from Greek myth. Yet Mister Monday is a delight even if some of it passes you by. Arthur meets a host of vivid characters as he hurtles at breakneck speed through this adventure. He's a likeable character who thinks for himself and never wallows in self-pity, no matter how bad his situation is. The author seems to enjoy confounding our expectations, and few characters turn out to be quite as they first appear.
Mondays have a reputation for being depressing, dull, and generally the worst day of the week. Not this one.
If you like this, try:The Beguilers by Kate Thompson
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Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Supervillians. They get younger every year.
Review © Ros Jackson
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