Book Review: Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

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Morrigan Crow is back in the second instalment of the Nevermoor series, a new children's/ middle grade fantasy franchise that has garnered comparisons to Harry Potter and Studio Ghibli combined. This time around, Morrigan is attending Wunsoc, the elite Wundrous Society academy where she will be a scholar along with the rest of her unit. Other scholars along for the ride include best friend and dragon rider, Hawthorne and salty mesmerist, Cadence. There is magic, mystery and a lot of good times to be had in this novel, and it's definitely not just for kids.

When people and Wunimals (human animal hybrids) begin to go missing, members of the Wundrous Society, including Morrigan's patron Jupiter North, grow visibly worried. Jupiter is so distracted by his work that he's not around when Morrigan begins to struggle with her new school, where she must keep a dark secret from all but her team. Morrigan struggles with teaching staff and fellow students who believe all Wundersmiths to be evil-- as a secret Wundersmith, Morrigan begins to wonder if she's capable of bucking the trend, or if she too will become a monster like the only other Wundersmith still alive... Ezra Squall.

I enjoy the Nevermoor series a lot. The books are well plotted and paced, and include elements familiar from a lot of my favourite series' growing up, including a focus on loyalty and friendship conquering over evil, a main character who marches to the beat of her own drum, and a richly created world. Jessica Townsend has clearly had a lot of fun creating these books as well, and it shows, because there is a real sense of joy in both novels so far. While some parts of the stories may seem a bit derivative, I think what is really coming to light as the series evolves is that these are books for and by a person who really loves reading. They are a celebration of the power of books and reading, and an homage to the great stories that have gone before. They are the perfect escapist series to curl up with over the Christmas period too, because they're light and easy without being fluffy and dumbed down. There are also a lot of mature concepts beginning to develop so I am really looking forward to see what is happening next!

Hollowpox, the third book in the series is due out in the second half of 2020 and I'm pretty excited about it!