It's hard to be Arthur Penhaligon. As if moving and being asthmatic wasn't bad enough, now he has had two nightmarish adventures, and dealt with the malevolent Morrow Days. In the third book of Garth Nix's dark fantasy series, "Drowned Wednesday," Nix spins his best story yet in this series.
Arthur and his pal Leaf are recuperating from the strange events of Monday and Tuesday... until suddenly the hospital is flooded. Leaf is abducted by a strange boat, and Arthur finds himself adrift on the Border Sea, on a hospital bed. After he's picked up by a shipful of friendly Salvagers, he finds that he's inadvertantly become the target for the malevolent pirate Feverfew, a mortal-turned-Denizen on a ship of bone.
He also encounters Drowned Wednesday, who has invited him to lunch. But unlike Grim Tuesday and Mister Monday, Wednesday needs his help, because she is cursed: she takes the form of a whale, and has a monstrous appetite. She's willing to give him the Key, but he has to deal with the malevolent Feverfew first, and rescue Leaf. Unfortunately to do that, he will have to take a rescue submarine to a seaport... which happens to be inside Wednesday's stomach.
For some reason, after the publication of "Grim Tuesday," the publishers decided to halt production and rerelease the two previous books in hardcover. As a result, "Drowned Wednesday" took forever to come out. Fortunately, it was worth the wait: as writing and characters go, "Drowned Wednesday" beats the second book and equals the first.
"Drowned Wednesday" more or less fits the mold of the previous novels: Arthur deals with the strange residents (rats and Denizens) of the various worlds, while trying to avoid being killed. It sounds grim, but Nix spices it up with plenty of humor, such as the stamp-collecting Salvager captain. One of the funniest moments has Arthur looking at a book about his adventures, which shows him as a buff action hero.
Fortunately, Nix keeps the story from getting formulaic by giving new twists to the story. Not only is it a seafaring tale, but he portrays the Morrow Day Wednesday as a victim, not a villain. Though Arthur is initially suspicious, it turns out that she's actually rather pitiful. And the final chapter of the book ends on an eerie cliffhanger involving the Skinless Boy.
The biggest change is in Arthur himself. In the previous two books, he was a reluctant hero. But now he is beginning to use the power of the Keys without worrying about it, and he is determined to deal with the other Morrow Days. Okay, he still worries a lot, but he's overcoming that; by the finale, he is much more comfortable as the Heir.
"Drowned Wednesday" equals "Mister Monday" for humorous dark-fantasy goodness. Here's hoping that "Sir Thursday" doesn't take long to get here.