Every so often a book comes at you from out of nowhere and just floors you. Knocks you for six. Bowls you over. Leaves you thunderstuck.
(Insert your own idiom here. I’ll wait).
Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is one of those books. Only it didn’t come out of nowhere. Not really. There’s been a lot of hype around its release. Not just from the fine folk at Hachette, Townsend’s publisher, but from my colleagues at Potts Point Bookshop, who I trust implicitly, obviously (how dare you suggest otherwise!); and other booksellers and bookish types, too. They were chanting in unison: Read this book! Read this book! Read this book! And then Nevermoor-themed umbrellas started popping up everywhere (even though rain has been scarce) and it all became too much. Nevermoor could be ignored no longer! So last Sunday I set aside some time in the morning (I had nothing planned anyway, so “setting aside some time” is a bit of a misnomer) and started in on the first book in the Nevermoor series, The Trials of Morrigan.
And so, now you can insert the idiom of your choice. Because however you want to phrase it, it’s really quite simple: Jessica Townsend’s debut is a stunning work of fiction. The hype — thank God the Hype Machine isn’t broken! — is justified. Heck, maybe even underplayed. Few books have swept me away on such an imaginative journey. Few books boast such wonderful characters, their journeys unfolding with such luminous prose. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited to sell a book in a long time. And I can’t wait to hear their feedback when they return.
The book has earned comparisons to Harry Potter, which will be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to insisting on its greatness to customers. Everybody loves Harry Potter — I was never actually a big fan growing up, but then again, I was reading Tom Clancy in primary school when Harry arrived at Hogwarts, so I guess I’m the outlier — but there are many, many — so, so many — pretenders out there, all trying to lay claim to that throne, to be the new Harry Potter, when really, we don’t need a new Harry Potter, those books stand the test of time, we need something different, something fresh, not a retread of old ideas. Which is why Nevermoor is great: it’s influenced by Harry Potter, no question, and doesn’t shy away from that, nor should it; but it’s not a carbon copy, it’s not a rehash. It’s innovative. It’s distinct. It tips its hat to Harry, then goes along its merry way, cutting a different path.
Nevermoor is about a cursed child named Morrigan Crow, who was born on Eventide, the unluckiest day of the year, and therefore destined to die on her 11th birthday. She escapes her fate when an enigmatic figure named Jupiter North whisks her away to Nevermoor — think London, but far more colourful and exuberant, full of incredible creatures and personalities — who promises Morrigan she’ll be safe in this unfathomable netherworld . . . just so long as earns a place in the city’s most prestigious organisation, the Wondrous Society, by passing four perilous tests.
I can’t praise this book enough. It’s charming, magical, mysterious, fun and wildly inventive. And between all the fantastical moments, and the blockbuster action scenes, is a sweet story about friendship and belonging. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is fiercely unique and one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read.
Now, what’re the chances I can get myself one of those cool Nevermoor umbrellas?
(Never mind. I’d probably just end up leaving it on the train…)
Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publish Date: 10-Oct-2017
Country of Publication: Australia