The portrait of Queen Etheldredda, known as the Awful, and her Aie-Aie featured in last week's Middle Grade Gallery is from Septimus Heap, Book Three: Physik by Angie Sage (Katherine Tegen Books, 2007).  When Silas Heap breaks the 500-year old Seal on the attic, the ghosts of the Queen and her pet step out of the portrait and proceed to wreak havoc.  Queen Etheldredda has a plan to give herself eternal life that sends Septimus back in time to serve the Queen's son Marcellus Pye, Alchemist and Physician; and the Aie-Aie spreads Sicknesse throughout the palace.

As for the portrait, we learn that the Queen was Entranced into it by none other than Marcellus, and eventually they're both (Queen and portrait; Aie-Aie, too) consumed by a Fyre.  I suppose this was necessary, but I hate to think of her official portrait being lost.  There was nothing magical about it, after all.

The books in the Septimus Heap series are the sort of fantasy novels that are pure pleasure for younger middle grade readers especially.  They're almost overstuffed with characters and creatures and spells of all sorts.  We listened to the first one, Magyk, which is beautifully read (for 12 hours!) by Allan Corduner, thus avoiding the capitalized, bolded, and magykally-spelled words in the printed text.  The chapter headings in the books themselves are nicely illustrated by Mark Zug, though; here is his rendering of Queen Etheldredda's portrait (scanned from the paperback).  Elizabethan, wouldn't you agree?