I utterly adored Tuesdays At the Castle, by Jessica Day George (2011-- my review), and so was naturally looking forward to its sequel, Wednesdays in the Tower (Bloomsbury, 2013; technically May 7, but in my local B and N right now). I found it utterly engrossing.
Castle Glower has a habit of tweaking with its layout--adding and subtracting new rooms, shifting the floor plan, making the rooms of welcomed guests much more pleasant than those of less welcome ones--and generally, though not always, these things happen on Tuesdays. Celie, the youngest princess, knows the castle better than anyone, and she's been mapping its changes through the years.
Then the castle starts to surprise even Celie. First there's the never before seen armory, full of enchantments, but that was just the beginning. One Wednesday Celie finds a new tower, and in it is an egg...and when it hatches, Celie finds herself the surrogate mother to a baby griffin...even though griffins are mythological creatures, with no place in Celie's world.
The Castle won't let her tell anyone but her oldest brother, Bran (the Castle Wizard), making things a bit difficult for her...but more distressingly, the Castle seems to be going haywire. More and more rooms are appearing, and none are leaving, with little regard for the wishes of its current inhabitants.
Celie (not unnaturally) tries to find out all she can about griffins. Gradually she finds clues that lead to a past when the folk of the castle lived side by side with griffins, riding them through the air.
But there's someone in the castle who knows more about its ancient secrets than Celie can imagine...and he's determined to keep all knowledge of griffins from her. Will she be able to keep her own griffin safe? Just what is this strangers mysterious agenda? (and what on earth is the Castle up to?!!?).
It's a more tense read than the first book, which was light-hearted fun (though with emotional twists...). This is essentially a suspenseful mystery, and though there's plenty of lovely castle-magic whimsy, and the young griffin is charming, the sense of possible impending castle-doom made it a gripping page turner.
And though it ended with the primarily mystery resolved, George added a heck of the twist at the end to make it clear that there are many more adventures to come....
Like the first, this is great stuff for the younger reader of fantasy (the eight to ten year old). It's heavy on Mythological Creatures appeal (Celie's bond with her griffin, and her wild flights on its back, are the stuff of many a young reader's wish-fulfillment), with a very likable main character, suspense without violence, and friendships without romance. I liked it lots myself and recommend it whole-heartedly.
Disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher