This is the second book in Jessica Day George’s Castle Glower series. Liam enjoyed Tuesdays at the Castle so much, he has been reminding me to get this new release to preview for him. (My review of the first book is here.)
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In Wednesdays in the Tower, we once again are following Princess Celie as she maps the ever-changing Castle. When she discovers a tower that no one else seems to be able to see, she investigates and ends up nurturing a secret giant egg – an egg of the supposedly extinct griffin! Meanwhile, the Castle is acting very strange, adding rooms full of fabric and weaponry, and Celie begins to suspect that the Castle is actually bringing rooms from another place. Add in the mysterious behavior of the Wizard Arkwight, and it all adds up to a very perplexing puzzle for Celie, Pogue, and Bran.
This wasn’t a very satisfying read for me. It seems to be following the pattern of most modern series where there is just enough plot to keep you interested, but the final scene is not fully resolved, leaving you hanging on for the next book. I can understand why a series would be written that way, but I prefer books in a series to be a little more complete on their own.
The message of Wednesdays in the Tower is that it is important to know your history.
Parents might want to be aware that Wednesdays in the Tower does have lots of references to magic and mythological creatures. There are a handful of small hints of flirting, but not much romance. Please check the categories below for a more thorough description.
My Mom-Meter gives Wednesdays in the Tower an overall safety rating of 2 (Moderately Safe) for ages 8 and up.
The Lexile rating for Wednesdays in the Tower is 830L.
Category ratings (click on the category to see specifics):
Celie is almost finished with her atlas of the Castle. She is feeling like an important part of the family, when the Royal Cartographer shows up to finish her work. The Castle begins to act strangely, adding odd rooms in inconvenient spots, adding new rooms on days besides the regular Tuesdays, and even bringing back the “holiday feasting hall” at the wrong time of year. Celie discovers a secret tower with a strange, orange egg that she takes care of. The Castle keeps everyone else away from the tower, and things happen that make it clear to Celie that the Castle does not want her to speak of the tower or egg with her parents. Every time she tries to say something, either a door closes, keeping her inside until she says she will not say anything or the Castle distracts her parents from listening to what she has to say. Thankfully, Celie is allowed to confide in her brother Bran and Pogue Parry, the village flirt. The Castle provides a room to keep the griffin in, and even provides food and toys to keep him occupied. Celie names the griffin Rufus after the stuffed lion that came to life as a griffin and rescued her in the last book.
Celie and her brother Rolf (the heir to the throne, who knows nothing about the griffin, but is interested in them because he noticed that all of the pillows in his room portray griffins) collect everything they can get their hands on about griffins, noticing that many tapestries and pillows in the Castle portray griffins and tell stories about them. Celie and Rolf read every book they can find about griffins. After the children learn the language Grathian, Prince Lulath gives Celie a book about the history of the Castle that helps as they slowly piece together the mystery of the Castle and griffins.
Celie’s older brother, Bran, is now a Wizard and is investigating the Amory Gallery, a new room of strange weapons that the Castle has recently added. He enlists the help of Pogue because he is the son of the village blacksmith (who secretly wants to be a wizard and not a blacksmith like his father). Bran writes for help from the College of Wizardry, but the wizard that shows up seems a little too interested in Celie and Rolf’s research and acts very suspicious. Wizard Arkwright seizes a book about griffins from Celie, and acts very secretive.
The Castle has also added the holiday feasting hall out of season, full of things packed away, and for the first time, Celie begins to wonder where the rooms go when the Castle takes them away and if other people use those rooms when the rooms are not at the Castle. Celie’s father hires a royal cartographer to finish the map of the Castle, which hurts Celie’s feelings, but she has her hands full raising Rufus and researching griffins.
Meanwhile, Rufus is growing bigger and getting harder to hide. He begins flying, and Celie practices riding on him. He has a special bond with her, and only lets Celie ride on him. They practice flying at night so that no one will see, and soon a stable made for griffins appears at the Castle, and Celie finally figures out what the bundle of leather cloaks that fell out of the fireplace are for: they are what griffin riders wear. She has read about griffin riders, learning about the bond between the rider and steed, and learns that unicorns used to live in the area before griffins arrived from another land, with the Castle.
Finally, the king gathers everyone together because the Castle has started adding rooms haphazardly and for the first time, it appears to be dangerous. Walls have been weakened and may collapse at any time. Wizard Arkwright is finally confronted, and the royal family learns that he is from another world. He is 550 years old, and part of the royal family that originally lived in the Castle when it was called the Glorious Arkower. His people had been attacked and killed, and then a terrible sickness swept through, killing both people and griffins. This who were not infected were locked in the Castle and the wizards sent the Castle away to Sleyne. When they arrived in Sleyne, there were lots of unicorns, but the griffins were hungry and gobbled up many of them before the wizards managed to run the unicorns off to the land of Larien. The people and griffins died anyway, and they destroyed any signs of the homeland that they could ( because they were afraid the people of Sleyne would attack them because of the unicorns). The Castle wouldn’t let them change flags or tapestries, though. Wizard Arkwright’s brother became King Glower the First and married a lady of Sleyne. When he had ruled long enough to be presumed an old man, he left the throne to his son and disappeared. Celie’s family descends from that family.
When the Castle was brought to Sleyne, Arkwright and his uncle took the Eye of the Castle and broke it in half, to keep the Castle from returning. Arkwright’s uncle stayed in their world, and Arkwright was in Celie’s world. The king commands Arkwright to return his half of the Eye of the Castle, and to travel back to his world to recover the other half. Arkwright tricks everyone and puts a decoy where the Eye should go. The Castle walls up the room they are in. Thankfully, Celie and Rufus had already left that room, suspecting Arkwright of foul play, and Celie finds Arkwright’s half of the real Eye of the Castle, and uses Rufus to fly over the Castle and drop the Eye into the chimney. The Castle then opens the room again, and Arkwright admits that he planned to take Bran to an empty world. He believes that the Castle going back to the old world will only bring death.
The Castle begins shifting and rumbling, so Celie, Rufus, Rolf, and Pogue all end up in a strange new tower. They are knocked down and when they recover, they discover that they are in a tower in the old world, the Glorious Arkower, but the tower is not attached to any building – it is simply hanging in the air! There is one more tower that is also hanging in the air nearby – with Celie’s sister Lilah and Prince Lulath stranded inside. Celie jumps on Rufus to go to them, and the book ends with Celie declaring they must first find out where all the griffins have gone, and then they will find their way home.
- The Castle makes Celie hide Rufus the griffin from her family – but especially her parents. What would you do if you were in Celie’s place? Why do you think the Castle wanted to hide Rufus from her parents?
- Pogue doesn’t want to be a blacksmith like his father. He wants to be a wizard, but he did not qualify for wizard school, and he is afraid to tell his father that he doesn’t want to do what he does. What do you think Pogue should do? Do you think Pogue’s father would be angry with him sharing his feelings?
- Bran says “Magic is a science: there are rules. There are rituals and ingredients to any spell.” Considering the entire book is magical, you might want to talk with your kids about what your family thinks about magic.
- Celie feels so bad, she might “vomit.”
- “Thank goodness” is said once.
- “Thank the powers” is said once.
- Pogue “fell on his backside with an oath.”
- Pogue utters a “soft curse” once.
- The entire book is based on magic. The Castle is magical and seems to add and remove rooms at a whim.
- Dragons are mentioned several times, and Celie’s brother (a wizard) tells her authoritatively that dragons are not real.
- A griffin egg appears and hatches, “imprinting” on (or bonding with) Celie.
- Unicorns are mentioned several times.
- Celie’s older brother Bran is a wizard.
- Wizard Arkwright is from another world and is 550 years old.
- Arkwright’s people transported the Castle to Sleyne with magic.
- Bran says “Magic is a science: there are rules. There are rituals and ingredients to any spell.”
- Arkwright and his uncle took the Eye of the Castle, broke it in half and kept if from the Castle to keep it from returning to the other world.
- Bran and Arkwright perform a spell to travel to the other world and return the other half of the Eye of the Castle. Arkwright uses a decoy for his half of the Eye, and the Castle rebels.
- Celie, Rufus, Rolf, Pogue, Lilah, and Prince Lulath are all transported to the old world, in two towers that are just hanging in the air, not attached to anything.
- Bran lies to Celie to get her to let Rufus practice flying. He says that he could use magic to keep Rufus from falling, but that wasn’t true.
Potentially Offensive Behavior:
- Pogue is described as “an incorrigible flirt.” “When he wasn’t being saucy with the village girls or fighting duels with their jilted lovers, he was often hanging around the castle, teasing Lilah.”
- It is mentioned twice that Celie’s older sister, Lilah, was flirting with Pogue or Prince Lulath.
- Rufus escapes from Celie’s room and chews up a new pair of Lilah’s shoes. When Lilah discovers the damage (not knowing who did it), she says she will “make new slippers out of [the person responsible’s] hide.”
- There is a tapestry pillow illustrating a griffin full of arrows.
- There are mentions of various weapons including spears that conduct lightning.
- A soldier drops his spear in surprise when he sees Celie flying on a griffin.
From an eleven-year-old’s perspective: “I liked this book because it was a continuation of the story in the first book. The ending was kind of abrupt. It made you want to read the next one, but it didn’t feel like a complete book on it’s own. Kids that like magic or fairy tales will like this series. I think that ages 8-12 would enjoy this book.”
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