Friday 8 September 2017

NEVERMOOR: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on an unlucky day, she is 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 Eventide. 

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 there that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organisation: 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. Except for Morrigan, who doesn't seem to have any special talent at all. 

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.

I was super excited when I received a gorgeous ARC of this book and couldn't wait to get stuck into it.

Morrigan Crow is a Cursed Child. In Jackalfax, she is blamed for just about everything. Even accidents and disasters that have nothing to do with her. Everyone, including her family, put up with her costly existence because they all know that when Eventide arrives, she will die at the age of twelve. 

When the Age changes before it's time and an eccentric ginger-bearded man sweeps her into the amazing land of Nevermoor, she miraculously survives.

In Nevermoor, she gets to stay in a magical hotel that changes daily and becomes friendly with the interesting staff. But, in order to stay in this magical place, she'll have to complete the Wundrous Trials...

As soon as I started, I was charmed by both Morrigan--because this Cursed Child was super sweet and strong and adorable--as well as the fantastical setting. The world is fully imagined and vivid, even if some of the aspects were a little hard to visualise. 

I was enjoying the book so much that I managed to ignore the slow, dragging pace in some places. I didn't let the off-page events bug me, even when they were briefly summarised. It was easy to do because every time I started to feel like my mind was straying, something really cool would happen and I'd once again get swept up in the story.

Having said that, the second half of the book was a bit of a struggle to get through. What made Morrigan charming at the beginning made her annoying by the end. And what was the deal with Jack? A character who conveniently drops in and out of the story to provide someone for Morrigan to argue with. I did like Hawthorne, though. He was funny and cheeky. Fen was interesting, but was absent for too long. I wanted to see more page time for the giant cat. Who wouldn't?

Oh, and let's talk about Jupiter North. (I love that name, btw.) He was a bit of a conundrum. One second I liked him, the next I didn't. Most of the time he seemed to come and go for the sole purpose of being the quirky adult character. A character who keeps a secret for 400 pages! A secret that becomes quite obvious early on, so by the time he explains what he knows it seems almost irrelevant. O.o

As much as I enjoyed the first half of this book, too many things bugged me. I found all of the Christmas chapters tiresome and unneccesary. The book is set in a fantastical world, so I sometimes found the real world stuff randomly mentioned throughout a little jarring. Although entertaining, it's just too narrative heavy. It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it was enough to strip away some of the enjoyment.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow is mostly a great adventure tale about an interesting character who finds herself in a world which is much more exciting than her own. There's definitely enough there to charm the reader into the story. But overall I found it dragged in too many places--especially between the trials--and this ultimately outweighed everything else. 

I also think the book would've been a lot more fun if it was 100 pages shorter. 

The fact I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped makes me sad. I really wanted to love this book. :(

The Trials of Morrigan Crow, October 2017, ISBN 9780734418074, Lothian Children's Books

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