Title: Mister Monday (Keys to the Kingdom, Bk.1)
Author: Garth Nix
Length: 361 pages
Genre: YA/children's urban fantasy
Plot Basics: Middle-schooler Arthur Penhaglion should have died, had Mister Monday not given him a Key that looks eerily like the minute hand of a clock, which sets Arthur on a mystical adventure to save the world.
Banter Points: "Mister Monday" is like "Neverwhere"- and "House of Leaves"-lite. Nix creates an amazing world just over the line dividing natural from supernatural that is accessible and creepy at the same time. Word Nerd thought the bibliophages (creatures that devour letters, words and any kind of writing) were especially creative. The struggle that Nix sets up in the House (when it's capitalized, you know it's not normal and likely dangerous) with Mister Monday, the Morrow Days and the Architect is clever, particularly as he weaves the idea of time and use of clocks, etc., throughout the plot.
Bummer Points: The story, at points, is more about what happens to Arthur than about Arthur. In that, the characters feel a bit flat, which is disappointing given what could be done with a character like Monday's Noon or Suzy Blue.
Word Nerd recommendation: This is good reading material for kids and/or adults who are waiting for the last Harry Potter book to come out. One caveat though, Keys to the Kingdom will be seven books long and so far, Nix has only released titles up through "Drowned Wednesday."