Scoop Review of Books

Fantasy Land

Book Review
Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (Hachette; paper, $19.99; hardback, $29.99)
Reviewed by Hariata M. Chase

nevermoor_pb_coverI really love fantasy, and Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor is right up there.  The descriptions of the places, characters and clothing make you feel you are there, inside the story.  The main character, Morrigan, is like any other teenager simply wanting to try different experiences.  She was  born on Eventide day, the unluckiest day for any child to be born and, as a result, she’s blamed for all the misfortunes that befall her hometown and its people. Even worse, because she’s cursed, Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

Enter a remarkable man named Jupiter North, who whisks her away to Nevermoor.  There, she has to compete in four difficult trials to become a member of the Wundrous Society, using some kind of  knack or talent that Morrigan doesn’t think she has. Will she find it before it’s too late?  She needs to become part of this secret organisation, to find a way to pass each test or leave the city and confront her deadly fate.  One hundred children, each with an extraordinary talent, are taking part in the contest.

Morrigan has some lovely relationships with other characters, including Jack, Martha, and Fen, the cat character whom I particularly enjoyed:

“Fenestra was silent for a while, and Morrigan thought she’d fallen asleep standing up. Then she felt something warm, wet, and sandpapery lick the entire right side of her face. She sniffled again, and Fen’s big gray head rubbed her shoulder affectionately. ‘Thanks, Fen,’ Morrigan said quietly. She heard Fenestra padding softly to the door. ‘Fen?’ ‘Mmm?’ ‘Your saliva smells like sardines.’ ‘Yeah, well. I’m a cat.’ ‘Now my face smells like sardines.’ ‘I don’t care. I’m a cat.’ ‘Night, Fen.’

One quibble is how long it takes for Morrigan to discover the real reason she’s in Nevermoor — something Jupiter North doesn’t tell her.

Nevermoor would make a great movie, along the lines of Alice in the Looking Glass with its beautiful, loud, colourful characters and costumes.