Wundersmith: the Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend
Published in October 2018 by Orion Children’s Books
Genre: fantasy (middle grade)
Rating: 10/10 – on my favorites list
I won’t provide a synopsis as this is the second book in the series. If you want to know what this series is about, you can check out the first book on Goodreads.
I have a full review on the first book in the series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow which you can find here.
I read the first book in this series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, in September of this year and fell in love with it. For the first time in a while, I was enamored by a middle grade book. Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against middle grade. However, it’s safe to say I’m nowhere near the target audience of those books. While I do enjoy them, I tend to get easily irritated/annoyed by some of the classic middle grade tropes. The same tropes I loved as a child.
That’s why I couldn’t wait to read the sequel. I preordered it, and read it about a month after its release (of course). I’m going to be honest, it blew my mind. Somehow, it was even better than the first book! How? This has become a series I will gladly recommend to my family members who have children because not only is it a ton of fun, it also provides some interesting lessons to learn.
As usual, I am trying to keep my reviews spoiler free so I won’t mention much here in terms of detailed story line. I do want to state that Wundersmith includes some of my all-time favorite fantasy tropes: a magic school. We follow Morrigan and her best friend, Hawthorne, as they make their way through a magical education.
I felt like this book was so fast-paced that I flew through it. Quite a lot happens, and Morrigan is put through a lot at the hands of the adults (and other children) in her life. I’m not quite sure how to talk about what happened in this book without spoiling anything, to be honest.
On the one hand, this book is focused on the characters and their interactions. It allows us to get to know them better, especially the side characters or newly introduced ones. You form a bond with some, and get angry with others. On the other hand, there’s a mystery aspect involved as well. I happened to love both parts equally, which I didn’t expect at all.
Like I mentioned before, the sequel allows you to get to know the characters better. In the first book, Morrigan struggled to get rid of the mental scars her upbringing had left her with. Being labeled as the cursed girl and the reason everything goes wrong for her entire life has left a mark on the girl. By the time we get to the sequel, she has come to realize that she is not evil but just a little girl. However, she still has to deal with the prejudice of her new status.
One of the things that’s most difficult to read about is how others treat Morrigan. As an adult, seeing someone act that way towards a child is just… I can’t deal with it. This book really doesn’t shy away from addressing bullying, and even talking about ostracizing someone. For a large part of the book, she wasn’t necessarily bullied but ignored and shut out. That can have an equally awful impact, and it’s so sad to read about.
Then there’s Hawthorne, whom I love. He’s Morrigan’s best friend, and honestly he’s the kind of friend everyone needs in their lives. The way he stands up for her and isn’t afraid to call others on their bullshit, even as a child, is inspiring.
We can’t forget about Cadence (he-he). She’s someone I really didn’t like in the first book, but grew to respect here. I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through life with her knack, as it must be a lonely existence.
We also have Jupiter, Morrigan’s mentor and the owner of the infamous Deucalion Hotel where Morrigan lives. Jupiter is such an important part of Morrigan’s life, and I found myself both angry with him and elated he was there. I was angry because for a large part of this book, he isn’t there when Morrigan needs him. However, I did appreciate their level of open communication.
One of the things I hate most about YA/MG novels is that they often feature a young protagonist who takes on the world by themselves because they simply can’t tell the adults in their life anything as they’re so incapable. That wasn’t the case here. Yes, sometimes Morrigan waited a little bit before talking to Jupiter. But she always went to him for advice and help when she needed it, before the entire thing went to shit. I love that he encouraged her to talk to him. It was such a refreshing thing to witness, and I think it’s important to convey the message that the adults in your life can be trustworthy.
I do kind of hate the reveal of the mystery pertaining to the secret. Not because I thought it wasn’t a good plot device, or because I saw it coming, because I didn’t. I hated it because I despise what they did to Morrigan. If you’ve read this book, please message me on Twitter so we can talk about it!
Nobody liked to be told they were wrong. But did that mean nobody ought to be told they were wrong?
Sisters and brothers, loyal for life,
Tethered for always, true as a knife.
Nine above others, nine above blood,
Bonded forever through fire and flood.
Brothers and sisters, faithful and true,
Ever together, the special and few.
I can’t express how much I love this series. They’re some of the best middle grade books I’ve read in a long time, and I need everyone to read it. No matter how old you are. Even if you don’t like fantasy. PLEASE READ THIS. The sequel is somehow even better than the first book, which is mind-blowing.