Fridays with the wizards by Jessica Day George

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Castle Glower series, bk 4. Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408858417
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Fantasy. Adventure. Castle life, Mythical creatures. Jessica Day George's Castle Glower fantasy series continues in Fridays with the wizards. Twelve-year-old Celie's life is growing up; her pre-adolescent feelings and attitudes are changing and so is the magical world surrounding her. This novel is centred on the family's return to the castle, the betrothal of her older sister Lulah to Prince Lilith and the escape of the evil wizard Arkwright. The royal family realises that Arkwright has made plans dangerous to their country and deadly to them. Celie's skills as a mapmaker and discoverer of secret rooms and special artefacts are of much benefit. Two dozen exquisite griffins now inhabit the palace, each one bonded to their owner. Celie adores her pet Rufus who accompanies her on her daring adventures to find the escaped wizard, through the ever-changing rooms and secret castle passageways.
Amidst the endless fittings for wedding clothes, the joy of watching new griffins hatch, the building of a ship in the sheep meadow, Celie's experiences some angst and self-doubt. Her decisions at times seem selfish which cause problems for her family especially elder brother, Wizard Bran.
Fridays with the wizards is a slower-paced narrative, with less of the surprising fantasy elements included in Jessica Day George's previous junior novels. Growing up, family loyalty and taking responsibility for your own actions are key messages here. Promises of a new magic kingdom with unicorns and a royal wedding will excite fans of this series.
Rhyllis Bignell