"Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then he is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.
Arthur is safe - but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with blood-stained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back - even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.
Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house - a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key - and discover his true fate."
On Earth, a boy named Arthur Penhaligon is at a new school. He collapses because of a severe asthma attack. Two of his schoolmates, Ed and Leaf , stop to help him use his inhaler and then run to get help.
While waiting for help, Arthur notices two strange-looking men materializing out of thin air. The first man's name is Sneezer , an old man. The other is in a chair which is being pushed by Sneezer. This man is much younger; he is known as Mister Monday. They are discussing about the key, and whether or not to give it to Arthur. Monday doesn't want to because he needs the key in order to continue his reign, but Monday will fulfill his part of the Will. After Arthur dies, he will once again regain control of the Key. After a while, Monday is forced to give him the key. The key appears to have the shape of the minute hand of an old clock. Sneezer and Mister Monday then fight and a mist comes off Sneezer. The mist becomes a small book, and it drops into Arthur's lap. When he held the key, he felt his breathing ease. He sees his teachers running towards him, so he hides the key and puts the book in his pocket.
Arthur wakes up in a hospital bed, tired. The two people who saved him came and visited him. It turns out that they were brother and sister. Leaf comments that she had seen an old man pushing a bath-chair with a young man in it; obviously Sneezer and Mister Monday. Ed has not seen Monday and Sneezer, but claims to have seen a bunch of men with dog-like faces digging up the field. Leaf confirms this. In pain, Arthur pushes his hand under the pillow, only to have his fingers touch the Key which had appeared there magically.
A week later, Arthur returns home. When he gets there, he uses the key to open the book, which is called the The Compleat Atlas of the House and Immediate Environs, and learns that the House (a giant, polyglot-fashioned building that he passed when going home) has an entrance called Monday's Postern. That night, he is visited by the dog-like "Fetchers" noted by Ed earlier. He is saved by the ceramic Komodo dragon in which he had placed the Key. During the next day, he finds himself being pursued by Monday's Noon, who proves to be more powerful than the relatively vulnerable Fetchers.
He escapes, using the Key, and enters the House as by the Atlas. There, he finds that the House is a world unto itself, around which the Universe is organized, whose purpose is, or was, to observe and record all that occurs in the infinity. In his travels through the House, he finds that he is the Rightful Heir, a person to whom the Will referred. If he fulfills this function, the Architect of the World's original intention will be enacted. To save the Lower House, he must defeat Mister Monday and steal the key from him. He is accompanied during the most of his journey by a cockney girl-child named Suzy Turquoise Blue, who was brought to the House by the Piper (one of the immortal Denizens of the House) along with many other children.
There, too, he learns something of the House's history: wherein the seven Trustees known as the Morrow Days, being contaminated by the seven deadly sins, refused to obey the Architect's Will; wherein the Architect's consort, the Old One, had acted in the role of Prometheus, in that he had defied the Architect for some purpose of his own and been imprisoned as a result; wherein the House, under the inadequate rule of the Trustees, has become a dystopia.
At the end of the book, Arthur takes pity on Mister Monday and lets him go, after healing him mentally and physically. He hands the responsibility of government over to the Will itself, manifest in the form of Dame Primus.
- ↑ Nix, Garth. Mister Monday. Scholastic Press. 2003.