Those of you who are unfamiliar with the Keys to the Kingdom series need to start with Mister Monday, then go on to Grim Tuesday, and finally Drowned Wednesday. This is not a series you can pick up in the middle and fully appreciate.
Arthur's dealing with the longest week of his life. Although it's just Thursday to his family, months and months have passed by for him because of his travels to the House and it's alternate time scheme. Thinking that he can go home after dealing with Drowned Wednesday and getting the 3rd Key and the 3rd part of the Will, Arthur is dismayed to discover that a spirit-eater is impersonating him on Earth. He cannot go back home until he destroys the spirit-eater and he can't do that at all because he's been drafted into the Army of the Glorious Architect. While he's at boot camp his friend Leaf returns to Earth and battles the spirit-eater. Arthur survives boot camp, but spends most of it not knowing who he is after he's been cleaned between the ears. It's not until Arthur is in battle that he begins to remember himself and his important mission.
Arthur must battle Sir Thursday at the same time he battles the curious New Nithlings led by the Piper. He must win the 4th key and free the 4th part of the Will while trying to avoid using it and turning more into a Denizen than he wants to be. He wrestles with the knowledge that saving the people of the House and the people of his world will require sacrificing a little bit of his humanity each time he uses his power.
Although it takes a while for the action to really begin, I loved this book. Leaf's battle against the spirit-eater is told in alternating chapters with Arthur's story. There's more religious allegory here too--Mister Monday is said to have failed because of his sloth (laziness), Grim Tuesday because of his avarice (greed), and I think it's clear Drowned Wednesday's sin was gluttony (she turned into a whale!). Although I enjoy seeing the underlying religious story, it's not necessary to understand or appreciate the series. Kids who don't pick up on it won't be missing out and people who don't want to see it won't be offended.
The book is a major cliff-hanger and I hope we see Lady Friday soon!
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