Review: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor is the first installment in a series about Morrigan Crow, who was born on Eventine, the unluckiest day. Morrigan is cursed to die on midnight of her eleventh birthday. Morrigan is blamed for every misfortune in the town, and she’s kept at arm’s length from everyone, including her family. Before the clock can strike midnight on Eventide, she’s swept away to a magical land called Nevermoor by an equally magical man, Jupiter North. Jupiter prepares Morrigan to compete in four trials that, if she’s successful, will grant her entrance into the legendary Wundrous Society.  

Before reading this, I’d heard Nevermoor compared to Harry Potter, and this is true in a lot of ways (although let’s be honest, nothing can ever truly compare). Nevermoor feels like a mix of The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Goblet of Fire, because of Morrigan’s introduction to magic at age 11, and the trials being like a less deadly Triwizard Tournament. The magic system is difficult to summarize. It feels more eclectic than The Wizarding World. I’ve also heard Nevermoor called a mix of Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland, which I’d call accurate. We also know that there is going to be a special magic school down the line. Jupiter is also a very Dumbledore-y character, as her mentor, and someone who is obviously keeping secrets from Harry. I mean, Morrigan.

Moving on from Harry Potter!

Townsend is a great writer. Nevermoor is fantastically and colorfully written. It’s clever, hilarious, and by far the most creative fantasy I’ve read in a long time. It has great worldbuilding, but still leaves much more to be explored in later books.

I love Morrigan as a character, which is one of the reasons Nevermoor is so compulsively readable. Before Nevermoor, she has never known love. She has been shamed and ostracized by her family for her entire life. She just wants a place to belong. As I mentioned before, It did get a little annoying that Jupiter keeps her in the dark for so much of the book (ahem, Dumbledore) but I understand why that this needs to happen plot-wise. The villains are sufficiently creepy and well-developed, as are the quirky host of characters in the Hotel, and Morrigan’s two close friends, Hawthorne and Jack.

Despite the fact that it’s middle grade, Nevermoor tackles dark themes, such as abuse and death. There’s also a lot of commentary for adults that I never would have picked up on as a kid, such as the discussion of illegal immigration. There’s a scene on page 428 when the Wunderground is experiencing technical difficulties that mirror the MTA subway delay announcements so much that they had me cracking up.

Most importantly, Nevermoor is filled with memorable magic and a story that I can’t wait to keep reading! My one concern is that it’s going to be difficult for the following books in the series to live up to the standard of book number one!

VERDICT: 4.5 out of 5 books

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