Saturday, 2 March 2019


Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow ('Nevermoor' #2) by Jessica Townsend     {Reviewed by STELLA}
First there was Nevermoor, and now there is Wundersmith: better, wilder, and more magical than ever. Morrigan Crow, the cursed child, is now well ensconced in her patron’s home, the Deucalion Hotel. Accepted into the elite school of the Wunderous Society, Morrigan is now a member of Unit 919 along with her best friend, the irrepressible and adventurous dragon-riding Hawthrone. So why does half her class fear or despise her and why do the Elders at WunSoc keep such a close eye on her, to the extent that she isn't allowed to attend the same classes as the rest of her Unit? She’s a Wundersmith, someone the Society fears and is in awe of. With her patron, the great Jupiter North fighting her corner, they can’t cast her out but they are determined to keep her in the dark and curtail her powers. And her only class, with the dull Professor Onstald, a minor Wunanimal, part-human, part-tortoise, teaching her all the evil ways of the past Wundersmiths from his book the Missteps, Blunders, Fiascos, Monstrosities and Devastations: An Abridged History of the Wunderous Art Spectrum, Morrigan feels like her talent has once again reduced her to a cursed child, shunned by her class-mates and disliked by some of the Elders of the Society. Luckily there is their Conductor, Miss Cherry; the staff at the Deucalion; Hawthorne, ever loyal; Jake (Jupiter’s nephew); and a new friend to counter the disappointment of school. Yet all is not well in Nevermore. Ezra Squall is still working his magic from afar through the Gossamer Line, people and creatures are disappearing (especially those with valuable talents), and Bonesmen (skeletal creatures that assemble themselves from bony debris of animals and humans they find in depths of rivers and the dark recesses of alleys) are rising up to kidnap the unwitting for the Ghastly Market, a ghoulish spectacle of a black market auction where the wealthy and unethical can bid for talented beings, to use them or steal the talents for nefarious means and their own money-making evil purposes. In addition to this, Morrigan is finding out more about the city of Nevermore and its magical wonders; a live map where you can see people walking about, getting caught in the rain, running for the Brolly Rail; the mysteries of trickster alleys, from the strange, yet safe (coded Pink) to the Red (danger ahead) to coded Black (certain death); an angel who sings to crowds of fans - his voice addictive; and the varied talents of her classmates, friends and foes (mesmerist, oracle, witness, wundersmith). This second book in the series will have you entranced. The pace picks up in Wundersmith, as, alongside Morrigan, we are plunged into danger, confusion and the need to be brave. Underlying the forward momentum of the plot are issues of loyalty, prejudice, bullying, resilience, fear, doubt and trust. This is a magical series for those who love Harry Potter, with the darkness of Gaiman’s Coraline, the humour of Percy Jackson, and a heroine who both makes mistakes and takes action in the face of adversity.  

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