Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Book One (Jessica Townsend, Lothian)
Ten-year-old Morrigan Crow was born on Eventide and, like other children born on this day, is cursed to die at midnight on her 11th birthday. Her family are distant and she’s blamed for every local misfortune, so when a man named Jupiter North appears on her birthday with an invitation to apply for the prestigious Wundrous Society in the hidden city of Nevermoor, and promises to help her escape the deathly Hunt of Smoke and Shadow at her doorstep, Morrigan feels she has nothing to lose. Queensland author Jessica Townsend’s debut is an exciting and charming middle-grade read that will hook readers aged 10 and up with intricate imaginative detail and its sheer energy. Townsend has a skill for worldbuilding—you will wish the Hotel Deucalion, with its giant cat housekeeper and mood-adjusting rooms tailored to its occupants, were real—and while some aspects appear familiar, Townsend incorporates these tropes with a liveliness that makes them feel fresh. The first book in a planned trilogy, Nevermoor does feature a lot of set up and the action loses momentum towards the end of the book’s 400 pages, but overall, this is a compulsively readable romp that fans of ‘Harry Potter’, Terry Pratchett or Studio Ghibli will gobble up.
Jackie Tang is the magazine editor at Books+Publishing