First in a fantasy series, this book has been compared to Harry Potter, and is one I’ve been hearing so much about, and was very much looking forward to reading. Morrigan Crow is cursed, and as a result blamed for pretty much everything that happens (or rather goes wrong) in her town of Jackalfax. Her father Corvus Crow is a politician, who doesn’t really want her, but must pay for all the damage her curse is alleged to have caused. People in the town take advantage of this position raising all sorts of ridiculous (and clearly false) claims holding her responsible for things like for ruining their batch of marmalade or even weather changes, but Corvus must pay for the ‘damage’ since there is no way of proving that the curse had nothing to do with these occurrences. Anyway, her curse means that she is slated to die on Eventide, her eleventh birthday, but when the time comes, she finds herself magically transported to a whole other world, Nevermoor, by a remarkable man called Jupiter North, and given an opportunity to enter trials with other gifted children to become a member of the Wundrous Society. But she must pass the trials first (where there are some very talented competitors, all of whom don’t play fair), and any slip could mean being banished from Nevermoor forever, and back to her fate—death.
I expected to really love this book and I wanted to love it too but sadly, this didn’t happen for me. That said, I don’t mean that I disliked the book, there was a lot I really liked about it. The whole world of Nevermoor was a little hard for me to get my mind around—and I couldn’t form a clear picture of it in my head—as was the case with the magic that worked there (what the system was, how it worked and such). These elements will probably be developed in the other books but still, I would have liked to form a better idea of it. But there were things that I liked such as the Deucaulion Hotel, of which Jupiter North is proprietor, and the magic that works there, the interesting rooms (and characters) within it—I think there will be more secrets there that will be revealed as we go on. I also loved the Christmas celebrations—these kind of reminded me of Harry Potter—Christmas for Morrigan within Nevermoor versus what they had at home (as did the broad idea of a child who was not wanted at home, blamed for everything, versus this magical world where people want to be her friend; and so did the story of the ‘villain’). Of the characters, Morrigan herself was just ok for me. I wanted her to do well, but more for the sake of seeing what the challenge would be like, what the next one entailed and such, than for her winning. I did like her friend, Hawthorne, and loved Fenestra. The plot was fun enough, the various challenges were interesting but again, not may be something that ‘blew me away’ so to speak (the first I liked the best). While the ‘mystery’ element which was building up throughout regarding Morrigan, did have an element of surprise when it was revealed, the actual reveal didn’t turn out to be as magical or as much of a spectacle as I was expecting. The latter part of the book, where various secrets were uncovered, were far more engrossing for me than the initial parts. So this was over all a good read, imaginative and enjoyable though I would rate it at around a 3.75 for me.