Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. Jessica Townsend

5 stars for this amazing children’s book.

What can I say about this novel? It gets better and better the further you read, as you begin to know the world and characters that burst out of the pages. The main character is 11-year-old Morrigan Crow, black-eyed, pale-skinned, unloved. She knows, for she has always been told, that she is a Cursed Child, bringing destruction upon all with whom she comes into contact, causing everything from bad weather to heart failure. Her cold, grasping family appear more than resigned to the fact that, like all Cursed Children, Morrigan is due to die before the age of 12. But then Bid Day happens and everything, every certainty in Morrigan’s life, changes; she outruns death – escaping the terrifying Hunt of Smoke and Shadow – and is whisked away from Jackalfax to Nevermoor, where she is offered the chance to compete against hundreds of other children to become a member of the Wundrous Society. It is an opportunity that involves magical trials and perilous tasks as well as the chance to make friendships and be accepted for the first time in her life. There are secrets, dilemmas and mysteries aplenty; there is bullying, danger and really scary moments; and there is a magical, dazzling world to explore.

The world and characters created here are vivid, vital and breath-taking. My first comparison would be with a sunnier-minded Frances Hardinge, in terms of depth and breadth of imagination and sheer playful inventiveness. The world of Harry Potter also comes to mind – and personally I pictured Jupiter North as Gilderoy Lockhart as played by Kenneth Branagh, but with real abilities underpinning his warm, exasperating confidence. Yet the world of Morrigan Crow is an authentic world all of its own – and it is a world that I look forward to returning to, when the next book in the series is written.

I received this ARC free in return for an honest review. UK publication: 12 October 2017 by Orion.

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