Tossed into a faraway land, Celie and company try to figure out how to heal their sentient castle in this third entry to the series.
At the end of Wednesdays in the Tower (2013), the Castle flung 12-year-old Celie, two elder siblings, a couple of friends and Celie’s griffin Rufus into a realm called the Glorious Arkower. Most of the Castle hasn’t come with them, though it was built here. The kids cross a poisoned lake, raid a king’s tomb and survive a forest fire, all the while trying to figure out why the Castle (back at home) has been so upset and erratic lately. They seek historical information, which requires untangling “lies and half-truths” from two angry wizards who bicker and tell contradictory stories. Although there’s plenty of action, all the heavy significance rests on ancient history and exposition, dousing the immediacy of the story. When Celie deciphers a truth or hears a big reveal, the actual information often doesn’t end up mattering: Whichever land this is, whatever the Castle’s and the griffins’ histories may be, clearly both wizards are bad, and goals stay the same. George’s characters and griffins still charm, but readers may miss the vital Castle’s larger presence, and the title is, sadly, purely decorative (there’s no pattern of Thursdays).
Here’s hoping the next installment (Fridays, coming in fall 2015) will recover the series’ early bounce and zip. (Fantasy. 8-11)