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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow Book Poster Image
First-rate, spellbinding story of misfit girl who's magic.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of elevated vocabulary words, easily decipherable in context. Also, British words: "chap," "mate," "brolly," "chuffed." Exposure to crisp, clean writing sprinkled with literary elements; e.g., startlingly fresh similes and metaphors.

Positive Messages

Life is full of unexpected adventures. "Step boldly!" If your family doesn't love and appreciate you, there are others who will; they are your family, and your home is with them. Family, belonging, and friendship are worthy values. Scapegoating others is wrong-headed and harmful. Deportation is wrenching for undocumented immigrants.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Morrigan is a girl with gumption. Though she has fears, self-doubt, and emotional residue from early rejection, she's open to new experiences and worlds. Jupiter North is a caring and supportive parent figure who truly "sees" Morrigan. Morrigan saves Candace from being trampled, even though it decreases her own chances of winning, and Candace has been mean to her. Hawthorne's a loyal friend.


Morrigan is pursued by scary hounds and horses who'd deliver death. When she's studying Nevermoor history, in one "blood and guts" passage, earlier clans "chop off torsos, hang their enemies upside down, and shake 'em until their guts fall out." In a competition trial involving scary witches, dead bodies crawl from graves, zombies pursue her, she pulls off a "disembodied hand," and kicks one's head, sending "its skull flying."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mentions of adults drinking recreationally scattered throughout story: hotel offers a happy hour, has a champagne fountain at a celebration, adults drink peach sangria, brandy, and eggnog.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is the masterful first volume in a fantasy series by Australian newcomer Jessica Townsend. Morrigan Crow is an outcast, plucked from the petty, provincial family that scapegoats her, and delivered to a magical realm where she competes for a highly contested slot at an elite school and society. While this treads familiar territory (think Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series, and The Mysterious Benedict Society), Townsend confidently claims it as her own with this strong, highly imaginative debut. Morrigan battles self-doubt but is plucky and resourceful. The stakes are high -- she narrowly escapes death -- and the action's swift-paced. But Townsend also delivers convincing emotional moments with wit, not syrup, including the reassuring message that life brings unexpected adventures, and this book very happily counts as one of them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2, 6, 8, 9, and 10 year old Written byLeanne M. February 21, 2018

A magical story with a strong female lead

The clerks at my local Waterstones know me by name now and a few weeks ago one of them chased me down and told me I HAD to buy this book for my son because she... Continue reading
Parent of a 12 year old Written byAntmqclean December 22, 2018

Step Boldly into the World of Morrigan Crow!

This is a beautifully written story about a girl who believes she is cursed. Plenty of loveable people and a quest to find belonging and trust mixed with a litt... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 14, 2017

Review on: Nevermoor - The Trials of Morrigan Crow

Are you, as a parent or teacher, scavenging shelves to find the perfect book for your middle - grade child/class? Panic not, because Nevermoor - The Trials of M... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 3, 2018

Great for Harry Potter fans

First of all, I LOVED this book. The concept is amazing, and the characters just leap off the page. It is a great book for the start of the series, I am really... Continue reading

What's the story?

In NEVERMOOR: THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW, Morrigan Crow's considered a "cursed child," blamed for every mishap and woe in the area, and she knows that all the cursed children are scheduled to die. But just as she turns 11, she's offered some "bids" to mysterious schools and apprenticeships. After signing one, a man appears: Jupiter North, who rescues her just as the hounds of death are bearing down. He spirits her away to the magical land Nevermoor and reveals he's sponsoring her for a coveted spot in the elite Wundrous Society. For this, she must compete against hundreds of other kids in four grueling trials. For the last, she must display a "special knack." But does Morrigan have a knack? And who's the evil "Wundersmith" people talk about? Has he returned to menace the land?

Is it any good?

Kids will hide under the covers with a flashlight long after bedtime -- one more page! -- to read this highly satisfying and engrossing new fantasy. With its page-turning plot, offbeat humor, quirkily colorful characters, and richly imagined fantasy world, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow has all the earmarks of a classic. The writing's stylish, with just enough Britishisms ("brolly," "chuffed") to make readers feel they've been transported. Since Morrigan comes to Nevermoor without papers and risks deportation, author Jessica Townsend invites kids to think about issues related to immigration. And though Morrigan and her patron, Jupiter North, are white, other significant characters are people of color.

The messages embedded in the story are delivered meaningfully, in ways that feel psychologically smart. While Morrigan continues to feel the rejection from her family, Jupiter is the supportive parent figure every kid would want, and his own magical gift enables him to truly see her. In one exquisitely touching scene, he takes her face in his hands and does not break gaze as he staunchly reassures her. With fast-paced action and heart, Townsend's fantastical world feels truly "Wundrous."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fantasy in Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. How many fantastical elements does the author invent? Do any remind you of others you've read in other books? Which ones?

  • Do you relate to or identify with any of the characters? Who and why?

  • Since this is the first book in a planned series, what do you think might happen in future volumes? Which questions have been left unanswered? Which characters or magical fantasy elements might come into play, or take more of a leading role?

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