Review: “Tuesdays at the Castle” by Jessica Day George

For the love of books

Tuesdays at the Castle is an unusual novel, to say the least.  For one thing, Jessica Day George frequently (and a bit mischievously) hints at J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series through references to the magical castle of Hogwarts and a very special magical object all Harry Potter fans will immediately recognize.  Second, Castle Glower is in itself a new entity to enter the world of fantasy, being a very temperamental and self-reliant structure that has a will and a mind of its own.  Tuesdays at the Castle is not based on any known or lesser known fairy tale, an original story of princesses and kingdoms filled with magic.  Also, the author never really reveals what time or semi-historical period her plot is set in, since the use of oil lamps turns away any possible medieval surroundings.

Moreover, like in her Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass, George gives her family of main characters the most intriguing personalities: Princess Cecelia (Celie for short) is intuitive and inventive, Princess Lilah is strong and maternal, Prince Rolf has a keen sense of humor balanced by a serious approach to his royal duties, and Prince Bran was born to be a wizard.  Instead of any romance, the author replaces it with only innocent romantic insinuations and more importantly, the royal children’s loving bond with their parents.  The king and queen of the kingdom of Sleyne (whose official language, humorously, is uncannily identical to English) are proper and just regents.  Nonetheless, they and their eldest son are suddenly ambushed during a short trip.

Treachery within the government of Sleyne (which is similar to that of England) starts with the traitorous members of the Council, who try to manipulate the three royal siblings outside of the protection of their parents.  It truly is up to Princess Celie, her beloved (and constantly changing) Castle Glower, and some new allies to save Sleyne from starting a war or submitting to this nefarious attack on the foundations of the kingdom.  Since the outcome of the novel does not really rely on magic as much as it does on the wits of children themselves, Tuesdays at the Castle has an unmistakably childish atmosphere.  However, it is also rooted deeply in a basic visualization of old European monarchies, with foreign dignitaries and enemies reminiscent of the visible antagonism between many European countries during the course of history.

All of Castle Glower’s antics and defensive measures against the usurpers are smirk-worthy and only prove its sense of loyalty to the current royal family.  All the main characters, especially creative Celie and charismatic Prince Lulath of Grath, are well formed in terms of morals and lively behavior; the story builds according to their strengths and weaknesses.  However, there are times when the transitions between the dramatic and action scenes are rather lengthy and a bit stifling.  Nevertheless, Tuesdays at the Castle has a permeating focus on the eccentric and the possibilities of fantasy that make the imagination soar, not to mention a delightful home that manages its size and its inhabitants independently.  It is a truly warm bedtime story by George that will surprise children and interest adults as well.

Original review: Part 1: ‘Tuesdays at the Castle’ has a living castle as a main characterPart 2: ‘Tuesdays at the Castle’ has a living castle as a main character, Examiner.com

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