my post on the first book, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow.
With the first book, I tell readers of Dahl and Harry Potter that they’ll probably enjoy Nevermoor series. It has the whimsy and mischief and ridiculous adults of Dahl. It has the kind of characters, world, and conflict HP fans seem to enjoy; you’ll find this especially true after finishing the second book.
Little, Brown, 2018. Hardcover Middle grade Fantasy, 544 pages.
Remember how Morrigan Crow—as a cursed child—was regarded with fear and suspicion? Turns out, being the first Wundersmith in a hundred years garners the same kind of response.
Remember how the Wundrous Society was going to mean brothers and sisters for Morrigan Crow? How they also promised an education that would nurture her abilities and make her a powerful and productive member of society? Turns out, being a Wundersmith complicates things; especially since the only Wundersmith anyone can ever recall is/was evil. Because her knack is kept a secret, those kept ignorant act on the suspicion that it must be something terrible and threatening. That the small group of 9 that make up her year are being blackmailed to keep a secret doesn’t help.
Remember how Ezra Squall told Morrigan Crow that he would teach her how to be a Wundersmith?—And how he was going to wreak some (more) havoc?
In Wundersmith, Townsend returns with even more delightful inventions: locations and spectacles and characters and knacks. She also returns with even darker turns. Members of the Wundrous Society are going missing. Morrigan is being bullied, limited, and feared. Ezra Squall is actually proving helpful?
When Jupiter North is available (and not looking for the missing), he (re)assures Morrigan that she could and would be a force for good. Morrigan has her doubts. And she’s frustrated. Her cohort take really interesting classes and are being groomed to be their most amazing selves. She feels left behind (again). With the kind of aplomb we witnessed in the first novel, Morrigan is determined to keep to the promises she’s made and the rules she’s supposed to follow. But with the kind of creativity and cleverness remembered from the first novel, sometimes ‘behaving’ isn’t the correct answer.
A couple of things:
The song Ezra Squall sings, and then the one Morrigan has to choose: super enjoyable.
I love the new chandelier in the Deucalion.
Dearborn, Murgatroyd, Israfel.
The first novel speaks to the power narratives have, the ones we tell one another, the ones we tell ourselves, and Wundersmith is not going to ease up on that theme.
The two paths Morrigan is offered at the beginning and end of Nevermoor continue throughout Wundersmith. Morrigan will again and again have to decide whether she should apprentice herself to Jupiter North or Ezra Squall—or whether she can apprentice herself to both the Wundrous Society and the only other living Wundersmith…
The conflict between Morrigan and Ezra is serious and compelling; and he hints at something big. He is such an impressive villain.
I find myself where I was after the first book, waiting for the next–and with a bit wider-eyes. What more might Jessica Townsend have in store for Nevermoor and the marvelous miss Morrigan Crow.
Recommended for readers of fantasy and adventure, of the magical and whimsical, humor and macabre. For readers of Dahl, Harry Potter, Beastly Dreadfuls.