Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix
Though not a fan of fantasy, I do read it occasionally to keep up on what my students are reading. The richly imagined descriptions in this series made it one that I enjoyed reading. An asthmatic seventh grade boy, Arthur Penhaligan, is the hero for this seven book fantasy. Handicapped and with the odds always against him, he does not give up trying to do what’s right. A rich stew of surreal Alice in Wonderland-type imagery and characters, elements reminiscent of myths, an alternate universe, endless hair’s breadth escapes, grisly horror, and mystery, Keys to the Kingdom never lags. However, this series is not just a vividly imagined movie in print for a happy reader to follow. Keys to the Kingdom is a thinking kid’s fantasy. If one pays close enough attention, answers to the great questions of the origins of our world and our human natures might come close to being answered.
Well-liked by both boys and girls in my middle school classes, this series is favored by boys; and though written at a seventh grade reading level, is also well-liked by high school boys into about tenth grade. The interest level is rated at grade five through eight. Both the complexity of the plot and the at times nightmare-like imagery may keep this from being a book for fifth grade and under, unless a child in these years is looking to be challenged and a little frightened.
The series starts with Mister Monday and moves through each day of the week: Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, and the eagerly awaited and yet un-named Sunday episode.