Sabriel) Mister Monday series, magic splashes across virtually every page. First, a brief, cryptic prelude tells of "the Wi"/>
 

KEYS TO THE KINGDOM

Garth Nix, Author, Garth Nixon, Author
Garth Nix, Author, Garth Nixon, Author . Scholastic $5.99 (361p) ISBN 978-0-439-55123-6
Reviewed on: 07/28/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003

In this first volume in Nix's (Sabriel) Mister Monday series, magic splashes across virtually every page. First, a brief, cryptic prelude tells of "the Will" that has been kept under cosmic lock-and-key by generations of Inspectors and their robotic sentries. Next, readers meet seventh-grader Arthur Penhaligon, an asthmatic adoptee who is struggling to fit in at his new school. Nix quickly thrusts Arthur into the heart of the mystery: while recovering from an asthma attack during gym class, Arthur is given a mysterious Key and Atlas from Mister Monday, an ominous wheelchair-bound man (mentioned in the prelude). The Key resembles the minute hand of a clock, and is actually a powerful talisman, tied to the clock-like device that guards the Will. Before long, Fetchers, strange dog-faced creatures, attempt to recover the key, and unleash a disease upon humans that threatens massive casualties. Arthur sets out to stop the Fetchers at the source, and ends up exploring a cavernous house visible only to him (it's 4,000 stories high, a girl inside tells him). Here the surreal story becomes even more puzzle-like and visually ornate—a sort of amalgam of Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth. Nix's grand explanation of the house and key is an original re-imagining of a classic sci-fi theme: the origin and purpose of the universe—and the willingness of man to circumvent that purpose for selfish gain. With a likeable unlikely hero, fast-paced plotting and a plethora of mystical oddities (e.g., Mister Monday only has "dominion over everything" on Mondays), this series is sure to garner a host of fans. Ages 8-12. (July)

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