Beloved fans of Harry Potter and middle grade readers looking for an adventure will fall in love with Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, the first in a new middle grade fantasy series by Jessica Townsend. There’s a curse, an umbrella transport system, something dark and mysteries lurking in the shadows, and an adorable, lovable protagonist that doesn’t think she’s all that but is willing to have fun along the way.
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Not only is she held accountable for every bad thing that happens in town, she is destined to die on her twelfth birthday. A bummer. But all of a sudden, a new world opens up for Morrigan: Nevermoor. She’s whisked away by a mysterious patron, Jupiter North, and invited to join the Wunderous Society. Or at least she’s invited to TRY to join. Before she can pin the golden W on her collar she must pass four trials that will test her wit, her bravery, her kindness, and her skills. The only problem is…Morrigan doesn’t really have any skills. Not like her friend Hawthorne, who can ride dragons. As she prepares for her trials, she learns to love her new home: the Hotel Deucalion and its many fascinating staff and guests. But trouble is brewing, as it always seems to be, and rumors of the Wundersmith are trickling in. Who is he? What does he want? And what does Morrigan have to do with it all?
Okay, full disclosure. I heard about this book on the Book Riot podcast, picked it up on a whim, and I really loved it. I don’t love fantasies like ACOTAR and ToG and all that jazz, but I loved Harry Potter, and this reminded me of that. There is still a recognizable world. Sure, it’s called a bunch of different things and there are dragons but there is also Charistmas and Hallowmas and people have “knacks” but they aren’t calling each other “mates” and zapping each other with electricity. This is the story of a girl, at its core, finding herself after so many years of being told she was nothing but a curse. And it’s a remarkable book. Townsend does a great job creating memorable characters like Jupiter North, her ginger-haired patron and Jack with the eye-patch and the Magnificat Fen and more. Even the other children going through the Trials get specialized treatment that makes you want to learn more and more about them. I look forward to the next book and seeing what Morrigan Crow will get into with all the information she has and how the battle for good and evil, if its as transparent as it seems, plays out.
If you want to read more about the process that went into Nevermoor, check out this SMH article on Townsend.