Mister Monday by Garth Nix, is the first book in the Keys to the Kingdom series. The hero is Arthur Penhaligon, a child with asthma who is given possession of one of the keys to another realm, but those who are hunting him down to get it back have sickened the people of his town and the only way to free them from the illness is to journey to a mysterious world, and take on Mister Monday and the entire bureaucracy that backs him.
The book reminded me in places of The Phantom Tollbooth. There were words that I was surprised to see in such a children’s book, but they were defined within the story and seemed like a good way to help a young reader stretch his or her vocabulary. Throughout the book is an emphasis on the power of words and reading that I found delightful. The action was fast paced, and there were many touches of humor and wonder throughout the book. It was an enjoyable read, though I’m not quite sure if I’m going to pick up the rest of the series to read. There were a couple of characters I liked that played a rather small role in the story after Arthur traveled to the other world. I think if I knew that they were going to play more of a role in the next book, I would be intrigued enough to want to find out what happens next. I’m a very character-driven person, and even if the setting is fantastic and creative, I have to feel engaged with the characters as well. Overall, I would expect that kids would enjoy the book, but I would need a little more intriguing characterization for me to stay hooked into the series as an adult.