Morrigan Crow is cursed. On her eleventh birthday, she is destined to die but fate steps in, along with a ginger-bearded stranger called Jupiter North who whisks her away to the secret city of Nevermoor. Here, she is offered the chance to join the Wundrous society, but to get in Morrigan has to complete four impossible trials. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the fact that she is being hunted by shadow wolves. Can Morrigan claim her place in the Wundrous society before the shadow wolves catch up with her?
No spoilers here…
Where to start! Ok, lets start with Morrigan. A ten year old girl, cursed, blamed for every piece of bad luck that befalls all who dwell in Jackalfax. Her father, Chancellor Corvus Crow, is forced to pay for all damages incurred from said bad luck. This has left his love for his daughter somewhat limited. Couple that with her impending death, let’s just say that Morrigan’s life leaves a lot to be desired.
At the stroke of midnight on Eventide, Morrigan will die. She is caught somewhere between acceptance and rejection – she wants to live! Eventide arrives and with it comes the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow. Step in Jupiter North, a man who more than once reminded me of The Doctor from Doctor Who, with his arachnipod called Octavia (an eight-legged vehicle) who takes matters into his own hands and saves Morrigan from her untimely death, and takes her to Nevermoor…
OK, I’m basically telling you the story. Lets stop right there! This book is wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. It is filled with bonkers! It’s sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Doctor Who…
Let’s just sort this out. Lots of books are coming along that are being heralded as ‘the new Harry Potter’. They come, they don’t deliver and they go. Having said that, the ways in which this book is similar to HP is purely in the being pulled from the ‘real world’ and taken to a magical new one. There is a Dumbledore-esque character in Jupiter North, and an array of other mad characters that are also wonderful.
The ways in which it reminds me of Doctor Who are also down to Jupiter – he is much more like the Doctor in temperament than Dumbledore. He speaks fast, jumps about a bit and tends to have the answers. I think I did imagine David Tennant as him, and it’s this incarnation of the Doctor that he reminded me of. He also has a unique mode of transportation in Octavia (which I hope to see more of in book 2).
The Trials have an echo of The Triwizard Tournament about them, but only in the fact of them being challenges. Other than this similarity, they are entirely different and thrilling, each one testing Morrigan for different virtues that the Wundrous society deems vital.
For me, where Jessica Townsend has excelled herself is in her world-building. There are so many imaginative ideas that she has woven into Nevermoor. I’m not going to spoil any of them here for you, but what she has done is created lots of iconic imagery that have stuck with me. And I think that’s one of the most marvellous ways to create a story that resonates with people. I mean, just in this blog I have mentioned a ginger-bearded mentor, an eight-legged vehicle, wolves made from smoke… and these really are the tip of a vast iceberg. In fact, it merits a second read to really appreciate all the extraordinary elements that make up Nevermoor.
I cannot recommend this book enough. To those who hold Harry Potter and Doctor Who dear, this is the book for you. I own a rather delicious hardback version which features a stunning dust-jacket, as well as splendid artwork beneath it (pictured above). The book has now been released in paperback, and if you pick your copy up from Waterstones, they have a special edition of this paperback with a bonus chapter and red sprayed edges. Who doesn’t love a sprayed edge?