Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow
By Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her eleventh birthday. But, as the clock strikes midnight, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor.
There she’s invited to join the Wundrous Society. Mystery, magic and protection are hers – if only she can pass four impossible trials, using an exceptional talent. Which she doesn’t have…
I had been intrigued by this book for a while, I’d seen it all over the SFF blogs when it was first published which is unusual for a children’s book, and it went in and out of the library a great deal so I knew it was popular with our younger readers too. So when my library was closing on the day of lockdown I swiped one of our copies as part of my book haul.
Good decision Natalie, very good decision.
I loved this book. It was the perfect antidote to the grimness of Covid which, I admit, may sound strange for a book about a little girl who has been cursed to die on her eleventh birthday. But Morrigan is offered a chance to survive beyond this and she has to learn to grasp that opportunity with both hands. The best thing about this book is simply that, following Morrigan as she learns to live, and more importantly learns to want to live. Townsend doesn’t shy away from the complex mental state that would undoubtedly ensue for a child in Morrigan’s position and she handles it deftly.
The second best thing about this book is the characters. Diversity is Townsend’s watchword, but it never feels shoehorned in. Nevermoor is populated by a wonderfully diverse cast: Jupiter, Dame Chanda, Cadence, Hawthorne and all the staff at the Hotel Deucalion will linger long in the memory. They’re distinct, delightful and warm. Their knacks are fascinating (knack being Townsend’s term for the talents of Nevermoor’s occupants) and there’s hints of larger back stories to be explored later in the series.
The third best thing about Nevermoor is the land of Nevermoor itself in all its Wundrous glory. The world building will need some further development in later books (she wouldn’t want to show her hand all at once would she?) but I forgive it the gaps for the sheer delight Townsend takes in the bizarre and magical. From the Deucalion’s chandelier and Morrigan’s metamorphic bedroom to a very creative use for umbrellas.
I can see where the parallels to HP are drawn, Morrigan is an unloved 11 year old snatched away from a family that doesn’t value her into a world of magic. Nevertheless, Nevermoor is very much Townsend’s own creation and all the better for it.
Children’s fiction is often denigrated as Adult fiction’s younger, less interesting cousin. This is, of course, rubbish. Anyone who spends any time with children knows they can spot a phoney a mile away, they can’t be talked down to and their minds are far more open and accepting than most adults. The best children’s lit speaks to the imagination, pushes boundaries and sings with possibility. Nevermoor is such a book. Morrigan’s world is wide and ever evolving, perfect for readers of all ages