After chowing through two science fiction trilogies (The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin and The Imperial Radch series by Ann Leckie), I was ready for a bit of a break from that genre and conveniently, I was able to attend Jessica Townsend’s book launch for her debut novel The Trials of Morrigan Crow, the first novel in her Nevermoor series. I won a t-shirt in the raffle! As did my partner and my friend, our names drawn one after the other even though Townsend had given the tickets a good shuffle.

Jessica Townsend is hilarious and inspiring. She’s talking at schools, too, and the two young girls sitting in the front row of the book launch had stars in their eyes (and I’m pretty stoked that they won the first prize of the raffle). And she doesn’t just inspire the young in their writing dreams. She’s not much older than I am, and she’s living the dream. Three book deal, bidding wars and a potential live-action film in the works. She’s confident in her writing, yet modest regarding all the buzz surrounding her. She used spreadsheets to track agents and publishers (something I do too) and writes lists of names she likes (something I also do). I found so much in common with Townsend, that I’m hopeful that maybe, someday, I may also have my book baby published out into the big wide world. I wish her all the best with her writing, and her writing is very much magical.

The Nevermoor series has the potential to fill Harry Potter’s very large shoes. The Trials of Morrgian Crow is a middle grade book, the main character, Morrigan Crow, has just turned 11. Like Harry Potter, Morrigan has been cursed, except her curse was being born on a particular day, Eventide. A day that occurs once every decade or so before kicking off a new cycle. Not only is she destined to die on the next Eventide, which is growing ever nearer, she is also blamed for everyone else’s bad luck. Stub your toe? Morrigan waved at you the day before so it must be her fault. Heart attack? Morrigan’s doing. Dead cat? Has to be Morrigan.

The poor thing spends every month writing apology letters that she doesn’t mean in the slightest. Her family doesn’t want her, she’s neglected and alone (again like Harry Potter), and then Eventide arrives early.

She earns a reprieve when Jupiter North, (an eccentric gentleman who very much reminded me of the 10th Doctor - he even lives in a hotel that’ss reminiscent of the TARDIS), swoops in and takes her on as a candidate for the exclusive Wundrous Society. A society of exceptional individuals, but only if she can pass four trials, the last of which she must demonstrate a special ability. Beside’s her curse, Morrigan’s doesn’t have any unique abilities. Her best friend can ride dragons and her rival has a voice of an angel, but all she does it bring bad luck.

Understandably, there’s more to Morrigan and her curse than meets the eye and the following series (so far a three book deal, but Townsend hopes it’ll be more) will explore all that in more detail, probably as Morrigan grows up into a young woman.

The setting of Nevermoor is fun and playful, with a lot of humour that would delight any reader. It didn’t take me long to sink into this wonderful world and I’m definitely looking out for the next book!