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BOOK REVIEW: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

BOOK REVIEW: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Lothian Children’s Books
October 2017
Paperback, $16.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Middle Grade / Fantasy / Adventure

7/10

 

A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world–but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination 

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

 

Nevermoor has elements of several well-known and well-loved fictional universes. There’s the slightly kooky/offbeat vibe that would be at home in The Addams Family, the plays on words Jasper Fforde’s readers will recognise, and probably quite a few more besides.

But by far the similarity that stands out the most is with Harry Potter. Our main character is a cursed eleven-year-old, raised in a place where people keep their distance from her, and she’s whisked away by a tall and outrageous-looking man with his own special kind of vehicle into a land where things are more magical and bizarre and… just “more”.

Jupiter said something that sounded like “one-sock weather.”
“One sock… Sorry, what?” asked Morrigan, puzzled.
W-U-N-S-O-C: Wunsoc. Short for WUNdrous SOCiety—it’s what we call the campus. Inside the walls of Wunsoc, the weather’s a bit… more.”
“A bit more what?”
“Just a bit more. More of whatever it’s like in the rest of Nevermoor.”

There’s a stern woman on the board that chooses who is allowed into the society, an evil “Wundersmith” who did a lot of damage some years ago, was cast out, and has become something of a scary tale for children, and all kinds of interesting skills to accumulate.

Most of these similarities do appear near the start of the book, and as one makes their way further into the book they will find themselves getting more caught up in this story and looking for similarities less and less.

Certain things are not made entirely clear, such as the way their clocks and boundaries for their years work. They live their lives according to clocks which tell them what season or time of year it is… but these can change with very little notice. So, somehow these are affected by the world around them? It is not made particularly clear, and as such, each mention brought this reader out of the story. At one point near the start of the story, the clock changes quite suddenly and Morrigan realises that a year has basically evaporated from the time she thought she had left (according to her curse).

At other times it was not difficult to see they author-cogs turning in the story, which also stopped this reader being entirely lost in the story. 

This is the kind of book I would have had a lot more fun reading when I was 10-12, but perhaps has a little less staying power than the actual works of Rowling and Fforde.

Nevertheless, it was a good, fun read, and I will be continuing on with the story. It’s also exciting to know that this one was grown closer to home, with the author hailing from Queensland.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Nevermoor - The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

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