Unlucky enough to be born on Eventide, Morrigan (along with all the other children born this day), is the source of blame for any misfortune that befalls her town of Jackalfax. Even if she is nowhere in the vicinity of the incident, it is likely that she will be the ‘cause’- be it a broken leg, the death of a cat or the spoiling of a batch of homemade marmalade. As such, her father- a prominent politician- and the rest of her family, can barely tolerate her presence and she is seen as a burden on the family name. They eagerly (although not too obviously) await the day of Morrigan’s eleventh birthday, when she is destined to die at the stroke of midnight, thus ending the cycle of bad luck and curses. As expected by anyone in this situation, Morrigan is less than excited about the prospect of her impending birthday (and death day), but everything is set to change when she encounters an unexpected saviour.
During the annual Bid Day ceremony- an event that sees children receive an educational bid to potentially secure their future success- Morrigan is astounded to learn that she has won several bids, with one resulting in a meeting with the strange yet remarkable Jupiter North. Whisking her away to the magical city of Nevermoor, he helps her escape The Hunt Of Smoke And Shadow- the deliverers of her untimely death- and helps set her up in the Hotel Deucalion. As her Bid Day Patron, he is responsible for helping her pass four difficult and dangerous trials, in order to win a place in the illustrious Wundrous Society, and stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good.
With the help of her new friends, Morrigan needs to adapt to this strange new world, and get through each task if she wants to survive. But with the immigration authorities and some of her competitors conspiring against her, she is more than a little challenged. Add to that the threatening return of the Wundersmith (quite possibly the evillest man who ever lived), and Morrigan’s adventures in Nevermoor are bound to become even more taxing.
Will she be able to pass each challenge to remain in the city? Can she avoid the ‘curse’ that has plagued her since birth? And how does she fit into the constructs of a magical place like Nevermoor?
Touted by some as the next Harry Potter, this book is the first in Townsend’s debut series. It features all the magical elements and mayhem you would expect from a book of this genre, with the Queensland author receiving rave reviews. While there are some obvious similarities with Harry Potter, I couldn’t help but notice that this series also contains traces of influence from other sources such as Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant series, Alice in Wonderland, and even Doctor Who.
Aimed at readers aged ten and up, the wide range of unusual characters is sure to appeal, as will the magic and mystery of the story. For those concerned about the evil Wundersmith, be assured that at this stage, he seems quite tame compared to Voldemort of the Harry Potter series. His evil deeds are explained a little within the story, but don’t seem to really compare at this point. Of course, this could change as the series progresses but any fears that parents may have about his evilness can be put to rest, as his story is only glossed over- playing second fiddle to the story of Morrigan and the trials she must undertake to stay in Nevermoor.
This is a fun and enchanting book and it will be interesting to see how Morrigan Crow’s story will continue as more books are released.