Book Review: Lady Friday

Lady Friday
The Keys to the Kingdom, Book 5

by Garth Nix

No sooner has Arthur recovered from the battle with Sir Thursday, than he receives a message from Lady Friday. Apparently, she is abdicating her position as mistress of the Middle House, and has left the fifth key in her Scriptorium, as well as part five of the Will. Whoever finds the key shall be master of the Middle House, and she has sent the same message to Superior Saturday and the Piper. Arthur finds himself in the Middle House with no friends and nothing but the fourth key to help him—and if he uses the fourth key, he risks losing his humanity forever. He must find his way to the Scriptorium and recover the fifth key and the Will before Saturday and the Piper. Meanwhile, Arthur’s friend Leaf is a prisoner in Lady Friday’s sanctuary, where she risks her life to find a way to escape and save the other mortals imprisoned by Lady Friday.

The Keys to the Kingdom is one of the most imaginative and exciting series that I’ve read in a long time, and this newest installment didn’t disappoint. You’ll want to set aside a few hours to read it, since it’s the kind of book you won’t want to put down. I love the way that Arthur has grown throughout the series from the helpless, whiny boy he was in the first book. In Lady Friday, he has really come into his own: he exudes a quiet confidence and intelligence, as he finds ways to deal with every situation that arises. He still longs for home and family and a normal human life, but he takes his responsibilities seriously, and consistently puts the well-being of his friends and the people who come under his care before his own. And most of the people and denizens he meet seem to sense that leadership quality in him, and respond to it.

There’s so much going on in these books that I feel like I need to go back and reread them all to catch everything. For example, there’s a recurring clock motif that appears in various forms throughout the books, and I’d like to go back and try to find them all. There’s a lot of symbolism and references in the books. It’s obvious that each of the trustees represents one of the seven deadly sins, but I didn’t realize until I read the article in Wikipedia that the parts of the Will may also represent virtues.

If you haven’t read these books, you’re missing out on a great series. I highly recommend that you start at the first book, Mister Monday, since the books really build on each other.

Lady Friday is the May selection for the Scholar’s Blog book discussion group, so if you hurry and read it, you can join in the discussion!

Also read David’s review.