Gr 5 Up—Morrigan Crow is cursed and doomed to die on her 11th birthday on Eventide night. She is blamed for every bit of bad luck and misfortune that plagues the residents of the town of Jackalfax in the Wintersea Republic. When Eventide arrives early, ushering in a new Age across the realm, Morrigan is faced with the prospect of her premature death—until a strange man named Jupiter North arrives. Together the two escape the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow and come to the Free State city of Nevermoor. Miraculously alive and possibly no longer cursed, Morrigan can make a fresh start. With Jupiter's help, she has the chance to compete in a series of trials for a place in Nevermoor's most revered group: the Wundrous Society. If she succeeds, she'll also earn her place in Nevermoor and finally have a home and a caring family. Despite Jupiter's assurances, Morrigan dreads the final Show Trial, where the remaining competitors will have to demonstrate their astounding talents—something Morrigan is quite certain she doesn't possess. Morrigan will have to step boldly and learn to trust her new friends if she hopes to pass the trials and join the Wundrous Society. Townsend's debut fantasy revolves around Morrigan's struggle to find her place and discover her own worth, all while she completes magical tasks and investigates the strange world of Nevermoor. This dynamic title is filled with intricate world-building that brings the renowned figure of Jupiter North and the rest of Nevermoor to life. Set over the course of Morrigan's year of trials, this entertaining and fast-paced story is filled with astonishing details, such as the Hotel Deucalion, where Morrigan's room changes to suit her mood; the Wundrous Society grounds, which turn the weather up a notch; and even a giant talking "Magnificat" named Fenestra. VERDICT Readers, like Morrigan herself, will feel at home in this evocative novel where magic and confidence go hand in hand. An excellent and exciting work.—Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library
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