Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

What would you do if you were cursed to die on your eleventh birthday?

Recommended by a friend, my 9 year old nabbed Nevermoor before me, then my mother and then even my (lovely) mother in law before I finally got the chance to fall upon its pages.

I love children’s fiction and quite often think it’s better than adult. There is just something about not being able to rely upon a murder or a divorce that seems to open up a world of different story lines and you never know where they will take you.

In this instance we ended up travelling with Morrigan Crow to Nevermoor where transportation is carried out using umbrellas, vampire dwarfs (not dwarf vampires, apparently that distinction is important) reside in hotels that grow chandeliers and trials must be passed in order to gain entrance into the prestigious Wundrous Society

Cursed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday Morrigan must pass these trials to gain a family who love her, legitimacy in Nevermoor and safety from the evil Hunt of Smoke and Shadows.

I just loved Townsend’s imagination who illustrated perfectly why I could never be a children’s writer. I mean, how do you come up with the idea of bedrooms that decorate themselves as they grow used to their occupant or Smoking Rooms whose soothing vapours change daily to suit the mood (chocolate smoke to promote emotional well being!) I particularly loved The Battle of Christmas Eve Chapter and still haven’t decided whether I would be Team Saint Nicholas or Team Yule Queen.

The start of each chapter was illustrated beautifully hinting at what would enfold on the following pages and despite its length (371 pages) it held my daughter’s attention whilst she ploughed through and I finished it in a few days.

The entrance trials did feel slightly Goblet of Fire-ish but the secretive Wundrous Society is no Hogwarts and Morrigan holds her own against the inevitable Harry Potter comparisons. Friendships, acceptance, magic, intrigue, Nevermoor contains everything you would want a book your child was reading to contain and with an overall message that the family we choose might not be the family we are born into I can see why a lot of children will find comfort in its pages.     

The second book in the series Wundersmith (three in total) is due out this month and we have already pre-ordered it. It may be umbrellas a dawn as to who gets to read it first.

The link to the book takes you not to a book shop but to a library, Orkney library no less. A lovely little place that has a brilliant twitter feed, especially when it comes to its ‘rival’ Shetland library.