Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1) blurb:
Not only does Morrigan Crow’s curse man she’s blamed for all bad luck, she’s also destined to die on her eleventh birthday. She bravely accepts her doom, but in a very surprising twist of fate, before the clock strikes twelve on Eventide and the howling shadow of wolves arrive, she’s whisked away by a remarkable man called Jupiter North and taken to the secret city of Nevermoor.
Morrigan cannot believe her luck when she’s given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the Wundrous Society – a place of mystery, magic and protection. Only first she must pass four impossible trials using an exceptional talent (which she doesn’t have).
Racing against time, can Morrigan claim her place in this wild Wundrous city before the shadows catch up with her?
Oh my gosh, this book was the CUTEST most mystical story I think I have ever read. If books were colours, this would start off as black, then go through a rainbow phase and end up sparkling gold. I had no idea where it was going, but I cannot believe I put it off for so long! I need all of the remainder of the books immediately!!
So, our MC (Morrigan) is a cursed child. All cursed children die on the next Eventide after they are born (this is basically like a comet in that it may be a different number of years until the next one comes around), as they were all born on the previous Eventide. Morrigan gets blamed for EVERYTHING that happens, and each month her father pays for all the disasters to befall the community, and Morrigan also writes apology notes that are hilarious:
I’m sorry you thought TREACLE was spelt with a K.
I’m sorry you’re an idiot.
I’m sorry to hear you lost your recent spelling bee
because you’re an idiot. Please accept my deepest apologies for any trouble I may have caused you. I’ll never wish you luck again you ungrateful little.
Of course, all this is before she is saved by Jupiter North of the Wundrous Society (Wunsoc for short) on the eve of Eventide, and spirited away to Nevermoor, where she lives in the most magical hotel (the Deucalion) and is invited to join Wunsoc. Now Wunsoc is a very elite club. In order to be invited to join, you must be put forward by a sponsor (Jupiter in this case) and then pass four trials. Each year Wunsoc only takes nine candidates, and this year there are more than 500 candidates entering. Which, you know, when your patron won’t tell you what your ‘knack’ is, is probably quite intimidating. Each of the candidates can undertake up to four trials (it’s like sudden death – if you fail one, you’re out), the first three of which change each year, and then the final trial is the Show Trial – where you show your knack and the Society deems if you are good enough to join.
I LOOOOOVE Morrigan. I love that she embraces the darkness, but she’s still afraid (yes, I am aware that she’s only 11). I love how unsure she is of everything (so much self doubt), but she just goes for it anyway, partly because she has nothing left to lose, and partly because she trusts people because she’s a little bit broken. The roof scene and the first trial melted my black heart for her. Just a little.
Jupiter is hilarious. The saying “hindsight is 20:20” applies to every single thing he says and does. While reading this, I had to learn not to try and dig deeper and find hidden meanings to what he says and does, and just take it at face value. IT ALL MAKES SENSE IN THE END. Also, I love the nickname he comes up with: Mog, and that he just goes with it even though she corrects him every. Single. TIME.
Hawthorne is delightfully mischievous, but not vindictive, which is a lovely quality to have. I could not have picked a better friend for Mog. The frog barrel scene is the greatest, and I also love how sure he is of himself – like, nothing phases him and it will either turn out well or it won’t, and he’s just there for the ride.
The remainder of the staff at the hotel are PRECIOUS souls. Each and every one I feel like has been handpicked by Jupiter to fill some aesthetic that he is after. Frank the vampire dwarf is one of my faves. I love his grumpy demeanour. Also, Fenestra, the Magnificat who is in charge of housekeeping. I love Fen too much.
And I want to talk about Cadence Blackburn. Cadence is at every one of Mog’s trials and is constantly causing her trouble (more than Noelle – yes, crazy, right?). The Chase trial was ARGHHH! but there’s something about her (that I can’t talk about because spoilers!).
The world-building was exemplary, which I think is a really hard thing to do for middle-grade high fantasy. I mean, HP was urban fantasy, so there really wasn’t a lot that JK had to do except explain a couple of things and that the magic was hidden from ‘muggles’ – but this was brilliant and just really well done. So many things (like, everything about the Deucalion) were so fascinating, and I was never lost about what was happening or the ‘magic system’ (which is actually more like a magical electricity system).
Huge props to Jessica Townsend for creating such a magical world for middle-graders, particularly as this is her debut novel. (Also, she’s an Aussie so it makes me a little proud!) This is a must-read for anyone who is looking for a great high-fantasy series, no matter what your age!