Tuesday's Knight by Julie Kistler
(Harl. American #740, $3.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-16740-7
***
Kally Malone and her seven-year-old daughter Tuesday have never been in Kew's Curiosity and Book Shop until they notice that it is open, on what turns out to be a fateful morning. When they leave, Kally has bought a one-of-a-kind book for Tuesday, who is addicted to anything resembling Camelot and the King Arthur legends. Tuesday's new book, Sir Crispin, The Golden Knight Of Yore, is exquisite, with its watercolor illustrations and grand, ornate printing. It is so unique, so mesmerizing, that Kally has to hide the book so that Tuesday will quit reading it and go to bed.

The book and the book store offer more than Kally and Tuesday ever imagine.

Kally is awakened in the middle of the night by two men, decked in armor, fighting in her living room. She recognizes them from the illustrations. Sir Crispin, the golden one, is fighting with the Dark Knight, Sir Septimus. The men are making so much noise that Kally's gripey landlady bangs on the door, demanding to know what's going on at 3:00 A.M. in the morning. Umm, that's a toughie to explain.

Normally I'm put off by farfetched tales, ones based on outlandish premises. But Tuesday's Knight begins so whimsically, so tongue-in-cheek that, initially, I was caught up in the story. You've got to chuckle when the blonde knight is referred to as The Golden Dunderhead, admires his image in his armor and then eats so much that Tuesday calls him "Sir Piggy."

Neither man is particularly awed to find himself in a new time. Tuesday takes care of important things by teaching them how to flush. The story gets a little iffy when Rosie, Kally's next door neighbor, drops by, wearing her aerobics instructor's outfit. Kally notices that the knights don't object to Rosie's outfit, even though they thought that Kally looked like a ragged boy in jeans. Guess men have always been into buns of steel.

Both knights decide that Rosie is really the Fair Rosaminda and is the object of their quest. Kally decides that her shoe-melting kiss in the kitchen meant nothing to the Dark Knight. Perfidious man!

Tuesday points out that the book is changing. In the beginning, only Crispin's face was visible. Now Septimus' face is detailed, too. The book is actually foretelling the future. When Kally gets really worried and tries to return the book to Mr. Kew, she's given what she thinks are meaningless platitudes. Whatever and whoever Mr., Kew really is, he is definitely one of the good guys, a celestial matchmaker.

Kally knows that the guys, now called Cris and Tim, have got to go back. They're committing mayhem in her life, particularly Tim. When Mr. Kew's help turns out to be a dead end, Kally's next action turns the story from whimsical to ridiculous. She goes to a psychic for help. Am I too logical? I can accept the premise of knights magically stepping out of the pages of a book, but hiring the services of a psychic changed this whole story for me. It rapidly became farcical and flippant, heavy on the adventure and very light on the romance.

I'd like to give Tuesday's Knight higher than three hearts, perhaps for originality alone, but the story deteriorates further into slapstick when Crispen crawls down the side of a five-story building in order to rescue his fair lady Rosie from a fire breathing dragon . . . what you and I would call a bus.

Tuesday's Knight could really go either way. If you're into high adventure and don't mind that the romance is put on the back burner, then you're in for a treat. However, if you'd like your adventure and romance balanced, you won't find it here. You'll find originality, humor, enjoyable people and a few characters who are a parody including our golden knight and Kally's ex-husband, a jerk who is on a continual testosterone high.

What you won't find is a story which details a burgeoning love. Here the love story is just one of the many story lines.

--Linda Mowery


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