The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1), by Jessica Townsend
Publish Date: October 31, 2017
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: MG Fantasy
My Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.
When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I knew I had to read it. It sounded like everything I loved to read as a kid, and it definitely did not disappoint. The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a fun, fast-paced novel that is full of wonder (no pun intended) and magic, characters that delight, and a story that truly mesmerizes.
From the start, I knew I was going to love this book. The world-building is beautiful – a little reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones, but also very much unique – and does not do any of those annoying info dumps. It all comes gradually and flows gently into the narrative, painting a picture of this world that seems to have no exact time period and is filled with magical and uncanny elements that just make Nevermoor what it is. The plot itself pulled me in immediately and did not want to let go until the end, with wonderful pacing that kept the movement going while also slowly building up the over-arcing mystery of the story. As an adult I easily guessed many of the answers early on, but even knowing what the secrets were, I still felt very much interested in the book, and never once felt like it was too predictable.
I love all of the characters that appeared in this book – they all felt unique and relatable in different ways. I felt like Jupiter’s entrance was a mild homage to the Doctor from Doctor Who, and I actually kind of liked that because of course once the reader gets to know him, he is definitely very different and interesting in his own way. Morrigan, the main character of course, is both strong and determined, and her longing for just having friends and a family who loves her just makes my heart ache. She definitely grows over the course of the novel, but it also feels that there is more to come from her in future books as well.
There were a few scenes and moments that I personally felt could have just used a bit more detail or depth to them, but considering this is a middle grade novel I understand why that might be so. I really loved the overall world-building of the story, and the plot just kept me intrigued the whole way through. This is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone who enjoyed books by authors like Diana Wynne Jones or J. K. Rowling, or even if you just enjoy some fantasy with a bit of daring involved. Be sure to step boldly, because this is a book you will assuredly adore.