Eleven-year-old Morrigan Crow is a cursed child. Born on the last Eventide, she is fated to a short life, and one in which she is blamed for any (and every) unfortunate event to occur. She lives an equally miserable existence, rejected by her family and waiting for her death to arrive with the next Eventide. When Eventide does arrive (a year earlier than predicted), a saviour, Jupiter North, appears to whisk her safely away to the mysterious and magical city of Nevermoor. However, the sanctuary of Nevermoor is only guaranteed for Morrigan if she can discover her knack, pass a series of trials, and join the Wunderous Society.
I must confess to not being much of a Harry Potter fan. Sure, I enjoyed the books (well the ones I read), but with so many amazing stories about, I just never really made the time to gorge on the whole series. After all, J.K Rowling was hardly ever going to miss my review and, to be totally frank, my real passion is novels by Australian writers. Having stated this from the outset I want to be clear about a couple of things:
- Fantasy, the likes of Harry Potter, is not really my thing, and,
- (Probably because of the first point) I wasn’t really enthused about reading this title.
Consequently, when writing this review I can’t really be sure how Harry Potter enthusiasts will receive this story. I really, really, hope they love it. For all I know, they may hate it for all the reasons that I felt it was the most remarkable and engaging read of 2017.
While this story draws obvious comparisons with the likes of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland, Townsend seems to have taken inspiration from literature well beyond these stories. For instance, the eccentric Jupiter North was curiously reminiscent of the Doctor and the trials conjured up vague (albeit PG rated) references to the Hunger Games. That said, while being a textbook example of good versus evil, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is very much its own story, is utterly surprising and is entirely original.
While I probably would not use this text as a class novel, I would certainly be pitching it to my Potter obsessed readers (especially the ones who really need to get with it and move on). Nevermoor will read well aloud, and accordingly, with accessible characters and themes, will operate as a wonderful go-to for shared reading in the classroom from middle primary and beyond.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow had me giddy with excitement. Not the kind of excitement that had me turning pages in fevered haste; more the kind that found me savouring every word (it is beautifully crafted) and feeling the urge to appreciate the unfolding story at a leisurely pace. In fact, more than once during my reading I found myself wishing silently “gee I wish I’d written this.” If I am correct, Townsend’s riveting debut will find her a place in the hearts of children (and fantasy loving adults) the world over. I really hope she doesn’t let it go to her head though, as I need her to get cracking on the next episode in the amazing world of Morrigan Crow.
Tanya Grech Welden