Posts Tagged ‘Nevermoor’

Jessica Townsend: Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

Morrigan survived the initial tests, and was finally admitted into the the Wondrous Society, and secured her citizenship in Nevermoor and The Free State. Now starts her training, or at least, that’s what she is expecting. The first day of school however, she is barely admitted into the school of the Wondrous Society at all. While her fellow students are sent to all kinds of special courses, Morrigan spends her days studying the failed arts of wundersmiths before her. Beeing a wundersmith herself, this is a depressing subject. As her powers and frustrations grow, she needs some kind of venting. Who can teach her the art of controlling Wunder, when neither the school, nor her patron can or will?

Jessica Townsend follows in a classical track writing for young fantasy fans. The rising magical comet pupil enters school. Jill Murphy, Dianna Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling, you name them. Now, nothing wrong in giving the young reader well-known knobs to hang her hats on, but they have to be good. Does Townsend succeed? Perhaps. I would love more intrigues and contact between Morrigan, Hawthorn, and the rest of her unit friends, and her enemies. I want relationships to appear and grow. I want more character arcs. I want … just more, I guess. Which means, I would simply like a longer book. Perhaps was it more. Perhaps were there stuff that landed on the cutting board floor. Or perhaps this was all. On the other hand, there is a lot to like. There are humour and sadness. There are songs and poems. I love the teachers, especially the school mistresses. The two-in-one classical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and/or Gollum schizofreniac style transformation is both disturbing and hilarious. The Ghastly Market is perfectly ghastly, the crooks are evil enough, and the finale is chaotic and overwhelming. The thrown-in whodunnit baffled me, and Morrigan’s frustration of not getting to learn more about who she is and what she can do, is crushingly felt by the reader.

This is a good follow-up of the first book in the series. I hope the next one will fulfill my needs for more character development. And I want a T-shirt with “Introverts Utterly Anonymous” on the front, and “no meetings or gatherings of any sort, ever” on the back.

Jessica Townsend: Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

In a world powered by wundercraft, a strange nature force that may be harvested for electricity, Morrigan is a child of a priviledged family. Her father is the elected Chancellor of the state, they are rich, and live in a large manor house. The should have been happy. But they are not. Morrigan was born as a cursed child. That means that whatever she does, bad stuff happens around her. The cat dies. The farmers have a bad year with low crops. Somebody falls and break a leg. It is always Morrigan’s fault. In addition, she will only live until she is 12, when the new Age begins. Then, as all they who are listed in the Cursed Child Register, she will die. Not much of a childhood to write home about. At the eve of the age, the Eventide, and also Morrigan’s birthday (and dying day), a strange figure called Jupiter North visits the family, and instead of dying, Morrigan is whisked away on a journey across the borders of the state, and into the wunderful world of Nevemoor. Jupiter saves Morrigan’s life, but her trials have just begun.

Towsends writes funny and originally, sometimes even surprising. Episodically, the story goes from cliff hanger to cliff hanger, so it should be excellent as bedside or holiday read aloud story. The text is full of songs, rhymes, alliterations, puns, strange words, and new words, and goes from very good, to just brilliant! There is never a boring period. Also she writes about children’s feelings. Morrigan is afraid, happy, disappointed, scared, angry, and jealous. The author makes the readers share those feelings. Well done.

As you may perceive, I love this book! I think it was Neil Gaiman who once said that the primary function of a book is to open a portal to another world. And that is why I love books like The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe, The Earth-Sea series, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and that first book in the Harry Potter series (and more or less anything written by said Gaiman). This is a book for that list.

Towsends writes for an audience that has become used to this kind of more or less magical worlds. After the success of the Harry Potter series, and the Tolkien movie (and thus book) renaissance, youth fantasy like the Pullman, Paolini, Riordan, and hey, why not Pratchett, series have bloomed and blossomed, and the readers know what they want. I will not say that Towsends writes after a template, her work is too original for that, but of course she is inspired by J.K. Rowling and other fantasy writers. And Jupiter could be Willy Wonka’s second cousin once removed.

Critics ask if this could this be the next Harry Potter? I’d rather say it’s the next Chocolate Factory. I assume Morrigan will return in a series of books. I look forward to them.