Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow isn’t the type of book I would usually opt for. I’m not generally a huge fan of middle-grade, with the exception of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. However, I’d seen so many glowing reviews of The Trials of Morrigan Crow that I just had to give it a try. I reserved it at the library, shlepped down to the Children’s Library, devoured the whole thing in a day and ordered my own copy before I’d even finished the last page. I loved this book.
Plot summary: 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.
Star Rating for The Trials of Morrigan Crow: * * * * *
I honestly knew I was going to love The Trials of Morrigan Crow by the first page. Morrigan is a ‘cursed child.’ She was born on Eventide, which apparently gives her village the right to blame her for every minor injury, cow ailment and bad job interview that comes their way. There’s even a whole system set up that forces her father to pay recompense for their financial losses, and I love a good institutionalised fantasy. The real kicker for Morrigan is that every cursed child is doomed to die at midnight on their eleventh birthday, not that her family seem even remotely bothered.
Luckily, for Morrigan, an affable stranger rolls up and whisks her away to a secret world called Nevermoor, and the story really starts.
The world-building in The Trials of Morrigan Crow is incredible, both in Morrigan’s normal, home world where there is a whole system set up to deal with cursed children, and also in the magical world of Nevermoor. It’s not really reminiscent of any other fantasy novel I’ve read, children’s or otherwise, albeit it there is a sort of magical school. It doesn’t matter, it’s not the same. I loved the idea of a magical society and the children having to undertake special trials to get in.
The tone is perfect, as well. It’s a light book, being aimed at children. There are some lovely scenes, especially at Christmas, that made me smile like an idiot. There are, however, some darker aspects that prevented the book from being overly fluffy. Honestly, it strikes the perfect balance between sweetness and darkness.
The fact that it’s a children’s book does not mean that the writing is any lesser quality. It’s actually written very well. It’s fast-paced, but it’s not jumpy or confusing, and the dialogue is never stilted or unnatural.
I keep stalking the sequel, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow, to see if it’s been magically brought forward for release. It hasn’t, but at least we don’t have long to wait – it’s out on 31 October 2018. I’d pre-order it, but if I buy the hardback then it won’t match my copy of the first book… it’s a hard life. Library it is then!