What do you do with a wizard who’s turned evil?Jessica Day George, Fridays with the Wizards
I recently finished Fridays with the Wizards by Jessica Day George, the fourth book in her “Castle Glower” series. At this point in the series, the royal kids of Castle Glower have managed to repair the magic castle, bring griffons back to their world, and defeat the evil wizard who messed it all up in the first place. So what’s left?
Well, unfortunately, before anyone can really figure that out, the evil wizard escapes and takes to hiding in the castle and stealing bits of cheese. This of course panics them all and they set out to find him. Celie has the advantage, of course, since she’s been mapping the castle all along and knows where secret passages are to be found. And she is still the castle’s favorite, so it helps her. But everyone pitches in (maybe Lilah less than usual in this one, since she has recently become engaged and thus even more girly, hysterical, and obsessed with dresses).
Far more interesting than the main plot in this book is the exploration of Celie’s increased frustration with everyone else telling her what to do (she is the youngest, after all) and poking their noses into adventures and discoveries she sees as hers by right. Celie is a sweet kid, but like most kids, she is not immune to frustrations born of being the youngest and least obvious authority when dangerous things are afoot.
But the castle doesn’t belong only to her and the discoveries made aren’t hers alone. In fact, she almost never does make those discoveries alone. And sometimes things genuinely are probably too dangerous for anyone, let alone a preteen girl, to do entirely alone (and one prepubescent griffon companion doesn’t count). I thought her feelings and frustrations, often with those feelings themselves, were very well painted and very sensitively handled. This was by far my favorite part of this book.
“I’m so tired of being babied,” Celie ranted. “I’m so tired of all my discoveries being taken from me! I’m so tired of doing all the work, and getting none of the thanks!”Jessica Day George, Fridays with the Wizards
I wasn’t sure what was left for the story when I picked this one up, so I was dubious about it. And like many fourth books, it easily has the least amount of plot progress for the series, but the most emotional growth for the characters. Not only does Celie have to actually grow up more in this book, but so did Lilah and some of the other characters. As much as I snipped about Lilah’s changes above, she actually does make some big, heavy emotional changes in this book that make sense and are hard. I was really pleased to see them. Pogue, Lulath, even Rolf and the Queen grow as people in this one, or recognize the changes that have been happening all along, anyway. Even the castle gets to grow as a character in this one! And that makes this book valuable and special in the way Taran Wanderer is.
But there’s one book left and a series like this has to end on adventure. So what’s left? The sea and the missing unicorns, of course! So, we’ll see where things go with that and where George decides to end the amazing adventures she has created around Castle Glower!