Without Hermoine, Harry dies in book one. It’s a valid point Future Women’s editor-at-large, Jamila Rizvi, is known for pointing out. And one can’t help but question how different the world may be in 2019 if Harry had originally been written as a girl. Would boys have been dressing up as the female lead for the last two decades (as girls have been dressing up as Harry Potter)?
Now, nothing can replace the joy J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series brought to so many children (and lets face it, adults too). But we may now have something of an answer to the question. Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow and the sequel Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow centre around 11-year-old Morrigan Crow, the feisty lead.
Like all good leads, Morrigan has a posse of friends – in this case, Hawthorne (a dragon rider), Jack (something of a wizard himself) and even (in the second book) Cadence (a former energy-turned-friend). Most importantly for the children in your life, Morrigan’s friendships are nuanced and complex.
Morrigan Crow is cursed, destined to die on her 11th birthday. This doesn’t happen – her birthday is in fact the start of the adventure. And there are other similarities with Harry Potter: the secret, magical city called Nevermoor (akin to the wizarding world itself), the Wundrous Soicety (a mysterious organisation that is something like a cross between Hogwarts and the Order of the Phoenix).
There are a series of difficult and dangerous trials to navigate. Morrigan is a layered character, and she does not always make the right choice. But she learns, and we see her dealing with rejection, loss and anger, as well as hope, love and ambition. Not bad lessons for middle grade readers.
There is even a character for the adults. Lovers of Harry Potter, imagine a cross between Remus Lupin and Sirius Black and you have Jupiter North.
Nevermoor won a host of awards, including the 2018 ABIA for Book of the Year and the 2018 Indie Book Awards Book of the Year, and it was also named a CBCA notable book. The Nevermoor series is not limited to Australia. The first book, Nevermoor, was awarded the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (Younger Fiction) in the United Kingdom in early 2018, and the second book, Wundersmith, debuted at number three on the New York Times fiction list in December 2018.
Best of all, these are the first two instalments in a planned nine-book series. Plenty to keep the young readers in your life occupied for the next few years.
Nevermoor: The trials of Morrigan Crow and Wundersmith: The calling of Morrigan Crow are suitable for readers 8 years and older.
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