Wunderous and Wunderful
Eleven-year-old Morrigan Crow has escaped her deadly curse and won a coveted place in the Wundrous Society. Life should finally be perfect. However, Morrigan doesn’t receive the welcome she’d hoped for. While the other new members of the Society are taught how to embrace and develop their unusual gifts, Morrigan is told she must supress her powers as a Wundersmith and her lessons are limited to learning the layout of Nevermoor and the extremely depressing history of the former Wundersmiths. To make matters worse, her patron – Jupiter North – is constantly away investigating an increasing number of disappearances while someone is blackmailing the Society’s newest recruits in what looks like a deliberate attempt to turn them all against Morrigan. Has Morrigan’s dream of escaping her cursed life ended before it truly began?
The first story about Morrigan Crow – Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow – was (to steal a quote from the cover) “marvellous and magical”: a story that gripped the reader from the first line, taking us on an enchanting adventure into another world. I was, therefore, excited and apprehensive in equal measure as I opened the pages of the second book in the series. Once again, the story sucked me in from the opening line as Morrigan leaps, teeth-chattering, from the Brolly Rail. Indeed, it was thrilling to be back in Nevermoor and simply wunderful to have the opportunity to learn more of this world.
In book one I was awed by with the way author, Jessica Townsend, was able to so easily persuade the reader to accept the most bizarre of situations and scenarios. This continues in Wundersmith as we delve deeper into the world. I immediately fell in love with ‘Hometrain’ and adored some of the completely outlandish concepts such as the idea of ‘Tricksy Lanes’ (alleys or walkways in Nevermoor that transform in some way once you’re inside them).
In my review of the first book I highlighted the similarities with the Harry Potter series. The echoes of the world’s most famous wizard continue in the second story as Morrigan joins her new, and highly unusual, educational establishment in the form of Wunsoc’s Proudfoot House. Like Harry, Morrigan struggles to make and maintain friends (with the sole exception of two, one girl and one boy), facing hostility from the other students and more than one teacher.
Like Harry, Morrigan also inadvertently discovers a mystery that drives the plot forward. Although the adults warn her to steer clear, it is Morrigan who (with guidance from an unexpected source) ultimately uncovers the disturbing truth behind the disappearances of Society members. Again, like Harry Potter, the storyline in book two is deeper and darker. There is also a hint of another – much more sinister – evil on its way in future books. I, for one, can’t wait!
Although the plot is slightly darker, there are plenty of moments of light and humour. Indeed, there is one set of scenes that had me chuckling throughout: Morrigan’s lessons are temporarily moved to the Deucalion Hotel (Morrigan’s home) and her fellow residents mastermind a serious of increasingly creative interruptions. I was laughing out loud by the time the scenes reach their climax and Magnificat Fen seats herself next to Morrigan’s tutor and starts to purr aggressively.
If this brief peek into the world of Nevermoor appeals, I’d recommend you read the books in order starting with Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. If you’re looking for another magical adventure, why not try The Polar Bear Explorer’s Club by Alex Bell or Brightstorm by Vashti Hardy.
Publication date: October 2018
Publisher: Orion Children’s Books