I’ve been a bit slack about reading kid’s books for work this year. I’m really enjoying all the classics I’ve been getting into instead. But this weekend I was feeling a bit angsty and in need of something light and easy. I also spotted during the week that Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend had won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Younger Readers. She’s up for a slew of Australian book awards as well so I thought it was high time to check it out.
Quite simply, it’s a ripper of a story.
But it does run the risk of being compared to other well-known books in this genre – the ‘cursed’ child, on the outside, ignored, rejected by her unsympathetic family. A strong sense of injustice and loneliness.. A rite-of-passage birthday. Portents and signs. A special school. A letter. A stranger to the rescue. Unknown dangers. The promise and excitement of a new, hidden world where Morrigan gets a chance to belong. An evil presence, banished but threatening to return. Quests and challenges to find the best of the best. Hidden talents. The power of friendship and kindness.
There’s nothing wrong with using all the tropes available to you, but I did find them rather obvious at times.
Despite this, or maybe because of it, Nevermoor fitted like a glove. Tropes not only help the writer, but the reader also, to feel comfortable and at home with a genre. Townsend has created a richly imagined world and a slightly goth-like protagonist. The opening sentence is dramatic and instantly engaging – ‘The journalists arrived before the coffin did.’
The main characters will hopefully be fleshed out and given more nuance and backstory as the series develops. At the moment everyone seems to be there simply to engage with Morrigan.
Townsend ‘s creation of the umbrella underground was interesting and helped to explain the Australian cover. She also included lots of action, snappy dialogue and left me wanting more.
I’m always fascinated by cover choice.
I really liked the proof cover jacket – mine was even simpler than this one. It only had the one word – Nevermoor – blazened in shiny gold with shiny gold sparkles all around it.
Nevermoor has also been shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards (winners TBA March 26)
CBCA Notable book (shortlist March 27)