Title: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (#1 Nevermoor)
Author: Jessica Townsend
Published: 31st of October 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardback – 465 pages
“People leave pieces of themselves everywhere, Morrigan – all the fights they’ve had, all the hurts they’ve suffered, the love and joy they’ve felt, the good things and the bad things they’ve done.” – The Trials of Morrigan Crow
Hello Hello! How are you?
I’ve finally gotten around to this review! I finished it nearly 3 weeks ago, I’m so glad I found a moment to put the review up on my blog because I need to tell you about this book!!
I read this book for the second month of the Middle Grade Marvels book club! We couldn’t believe how many times this book had been nominated, and then when it won, we were so excited! It was so nice how even the few members who had already read it discussed each section with us as we were reading it. Noly and I ended up finishing it together the night before our final discussion, we loved it so much! Keep reading for my thoughts on this great book!
A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination
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.
The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend is the first book in the Nevermoor series, a middle grade fantasy series in which we follow Morrigan Crow after she escapes her destiny to die on Eventide and discovers a whole new magical world. We first meet Morrigan Crow in Jackalfax, she is a cursed child and everything bad that happens in this part of the Republic gets blamed on her. Ever cursed child dies on Eventide, she has known this all her life, so she is just counting down the days until her demise.
When we started reading this for the book club, we immediately thought that it had a dark atmosphere! I have to admit that I struggled with the names at first, they were all so hard to pronounce, but once I got the hang of them, I couldn’t put this book down!
This book is first set in Jackalfax in the Republic which is definitely a really gloomy, miserable and dark setting. The whole town knows that Morrigan is cursed and they blame her for every little thing that happens, even her parents blame her for things she cannot possibly have done. I thought that this first part of the story was so sad because it’s clear that her parents don’t love her, the only person who seems mildly interested in her is her Grandmother.
I can’t really go into too much detail about the next part because I don’t want to give you spoilers, but Morrigan ends up escaping death and arrives with Jupiter North (her new patron) in Nevermoor, in the Free State. I thought that there was a really big difference between Jackalfax and Nevermoor. It seemed like Jackalfax was the sad depressing world and Nevermoor becomes the exciting, magical, friendly, happy part of the world and I have to say I loved it so much.
The world-building in this book is great! I got some really spooky, dark almost gothic vibes from the first part of the book, and the only way to describe the difference between Jackalfax and Nevermoor is to say that Nevermoor is exploding with colour and magic. Everywhere Morrigan looks when she arrives in Nevermoor there is something amazing, something new, something colourful, something funny, something astonishing and it definitely gives a great atmosphere and feeling to the whole book.
When Morrigan gets to Nevermoor, she goes to live in the Hotel Deucalion, and without giving too much away, this was my favourite setting. The Hotel is amazing, you will know what I mean if you have read it. I was completely enchanted by this, it’s almost as if the hotel is its own character and I loved the descriptions so much!
One of the things I love in middle grade books is the number and diversity of the characters. In this book, there are so many different characters and they all have such distinct personalities, some are funny, some are mean, some are shy, some are loud, I love it!
Morrigan: She is the main character of the book, she is 11-years-old and her whole life she has known she was going to die. In the first few chapters of this book, you can tell that she is scared and frustrated and this comes across as sarcasm, I really liked that, but when she gets to Nevermoor, her whole personality changes and I loved to see her blossom and really have the childhood that she had been missing out on. She is a strong character, she questions and is uncertain about her future, but she puts her faith in Jupiter and the other people in the hotel. I really loved her, she is really sweet, she always tries her best even though she doesn’t know what she is doing, she is brave and loyal, a great character.
Jupiter: I loved Jupiter from the minute we met him! He has a really eccentric personality, he is described as a bit over the top and I loved that about him. He is funny and caring, he doesn’t tell Morrigan what she wants to know which really frustrated me, but in the end, I understand why he did hide everything from her. He is such a great part of this book and I can’t wait for the next instalment, I’m hoping that we will get all these characters again because I want to know more about them!
Fen: I loved Fen! She is a Magnificat – a really big talking cat – and right from the start, I found her to be hilarious. She is straight to the point and doesn’t take anyone’s crap, but she is also really sweet with Morrigan when she needs reassurance. She is very determined and I thought that she was such a cool character!
Hawthorne: I also really liked Hawthorne, he is one of the candidates for the Wundrous Society that Morrigan meets early on in the book, and he is also a dragon rider – which is his knack. I think I would describe him as the quintessential funny friend, he is always cracking jokes and making people laugh, but you can tell that he also cares for Morrigan. I loved their friendship and I can’t wait to see Hawthorne in the next book, he seems to have become a part of the Hotel Deucalion family!
Jack: We only get to meet Jack around the middle of this book, he is Jupiter’s nephew, and I have to say that I didn’t like him from the first impressions I got, he was mean and snarky, but all of a sudden, he was really nice with Morrigan, so I don’t know if I forgot something, but I liked how his personality changed and he seemed to open up more to her.
I’m going to try to talk about some of the themes from the book without giving too much away. My first impression of this book was that it was quite dark, the topics are hard – curses and death – and it’s a bit of a surprise when you jump into this book and you already know the main character is supposed to die. Obviously she doesn’t but the point is, this book can be hard-hitting.
Morrigan has to complete trials to get into the Wundrous Society, and she needs a knack, but she doesn’t know what that is or how she is going to manage it. I felt sorry for her because I kept wanting the same answers she did. I loved how this book was written because I had one theory about everything, but that was completely blown up when everything was revealed in the last few chapters.
This book has a focus on family, firstly, Morrigan doesn’t really have a family, her parents don’t really care about her, they are just waiting for her to die so they can get on with their lives and everyone in Jackalfax knows she is cursed. But when she arrives in Nevermoor, that curse is kind of lifted and no one is bothered about who she is. She realises that she has a family and that they are there for her.
This book is full of magic, loads of people in Nevermoor have a knack, this was such a great plotline, it’s a bit like magic but not really, so I loved how unique this element was. I had loads of theories about everyone, but in the end, the revelation about Morrigan surprised me so much, I had no idea. There are so many things that happen in this book, it was so complex and beautifully written and executed!
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
This book was absolutely great! I did struggle a bit with it at the start and with the names, but I think that was down to me being in a bit of a slumpy mood rather than the book not being good. As soon as I started this book and I really got into it, I knew I loved it. It’s really a very different book than any I’ve ever read before, I don’t know if that’s because Middle Grade have a different “feel” when reading them or something else, but I thought it was so complex and detailed!
I gave this book 5 stars, I could try to find something that I didn’t like, but I honestly can’t. This is the type of book that you love the whole way through and you have a smile on your face when you turn the last page, so it deserves all the stars from me. I would highly recommend to anyone, in my opinion, Middle Grade books are sometimes a lot more complex and deeper than books for other audiences and this was a great example! I loved it so much and I know that the other members of Middle Grade Marvels did too. It’s a great read for any age!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post! Give me your recommendations of middle grade books you have loved, I’m in a middle grade bingeing mood! See you soon, stay safe,
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Audible FR (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Audible UK – Kobo