Lady Friday by Garth Nix.
This is book five in the Keys of the Kingdom series, which is a series perfect for kids who appreciate unique settings, quirky characters and fantasy.
This fifth book is set in the Middle House. Arthur now has four of the Keys and is seeking the fifth. He is trying not to use the power of the fourth key on his quest because if he continues to use the power of the House then he will not be able to return to Earth and his family. Leaf, one of Arthur’s human friends, has been captured by Lady Friday who delights in drinking the experiences of humans, leaving them without their memories. Arthur’s own mother has been captured as well, driving him to confront Lady Friday and attempt a rescue.
As always the settings of the series are amazingly creative and unique. I loved the idea of charged water that carries items with writing on them ever higher up a series of locks. The action in this piece of Arthur’s journey is slower and less frantic than in previous novels, but it is a relief after the battlefields of the 4th book in the series. Nix seems always able to finesse the pacing of the novels to suit the setting.
This is a must-read for those following the series. It is also a series that should be recommended for kids who enjoy Harry Potter and are looking for an alternative. The Keys series has its own sense of humor, lots of darkness, plenty of action, yet is entirely different than any other series. It is not derivative at all. Rather it is a flight of unfettered imagination bottled for fantasy lovers.