Monday, December 4, 2017

Nevermoor - The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

"Death is boring.  Life is so much more fun. Things happen in life all the time. Unexpected things. Things you couldn't possibly expect because they're so very ... unexpected."

There is quite a buzz in the children's literature world about Nevermoor.  I actually bought a copy the week it was released but then I gave it away to a friend before I even had a chance to begin reading.  I picked up another copy last week from my local bookshop.  Last night and today I devoured the whole 450 pages.  This is such a great story with so many inventive ideas, scenes and memorable characters.

You can read more about the plot here.  I thought I might just share a few of the very special moments that I enjoyed :

The opening sentence filled me with curiosity - "The cat was dead and Morrigan was to blame."

The Ages are marked by the Skyfaced Clock - "... a round glass face, with an empty sky inside that changed with the passing of the age - from the palest-pink dawn light of Morningtide, ...  into the dusky, darkening blue of the Gloaming ... and the fifth and final colour of its cycle: the inky, star strewn blackness of Eventide."  Eventide is marked as the time Morrigan will die, that is until Jupiter North rescues her and transports her to Nevermoor.

Morrigan has to go through four trials spread out over the year. in order to become a member of the Wundrous Society.  There are 500 candidates this year.

1.  Book Trial to see who is honest and quick thinking
2.  The Chase Trial to see who is tenacious and strategic
3.  The Fright Tial to see who is brave and resourceful
4.  The Show Trial

This fourth trial is the most terrifying one.  Morrigan has to demonstrate her talent, skill, knack or gift.  Morrigan is convinced she does not have anything to share.  When you read about the performances of her fellow competitors you are sure to gasp.  In these final chapters Jessica Townsend's inventive writing really soars. I won't spoil this section except to say read Chapter 21 and then read it again.

For the Chase Trial all the competitors wear white.  This is because they have to ride a living steed with no fewer than two legs and no more than four and as they ride they have to strike a target. "Each one blasted a cloud of brightly coloured powder all over the candidate's face and clothes."  There is some talk Nevermoor will be made into a movie - this is a scene that is sure to be spectacular.

For the Book Trial, the answer books catch on fire when the children do not deliver 'correct' answers.  I relish words like conflagrated, tendril, impertinent and pristine and all of these are in just one scene in one chapter.

Jessica Townsend has really balanced her characters - Morrigan has so many worries and such low self-esteem, Jupiter North lightens every scene with his quirky comments and positive outlook, Hawthorne is a perfect friend and the Magnificat Fenestra is simply marvelous.

Here are some excellent teachers notes by Robyn Sheahan-Bright.  Read some connections between Nevermoor and the Harry Potter series.  Here is an interview with Jessica. You can hear and see the author reading an extract from her book.  I am sure this book will feature on the CBCA short list for 2018.

There will be a sequel but I am happy to say enough is resolved at the end of this first installment to leave you satisfied and not in despair that you will have to wait for book 2.

Whimsical worldbuilding, humorous dialogue, and colorful supporting characters complement an adventurous, magic-filled plot that champions bravery, self-confidence, and hope.   Publisher's Weekly

The magic of Nevermoor is shiveringly, thrillingly wonderful. Open its pages and discover a hotel room that changes to suit your personality, a large talking cat with exactly the right amount of cattitude, and children with awe-inspiring magical abilities. This novel is an absolute treat.   Readings

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