Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend – Book Review

What a jacket synopsis! Intrigued? You should be. Now this is one of the first books that’s been compared to Harry Potter that I feel lives up to the expectations. I loved it.

And just pause again to look at this stunning hardback – as gorgeous naked as with the dust jacket.

Now I received a review copy through Netgalley but I was enjoying it so much and I spotted the beauty that was this edition, and I knew I would regret not owning it, so I bought it and switched to reading from real paper.

Now. Because of the comparisons to Harry Potter there will inevitably be some comparisons made but in my view they are all positive.

Child gets whisked away to a wonderous world from a not particularly pleasant life. Check. Although, unlike the muggle world the world that Morrigan leaves is just as intriguing as the world she moves to. Cursed Children? The Hunt of Smoke and Shadow?

Genial magical man to guide our young protégée. Harry had Dumbledore. Mog, as he decides to call her despite her protestations, has Jupiter North. Is he as conflicted as Dumbledore, only time will tell.

Fierce friendships and fantastical foes. One main friend Hawthorne and some allies who may or may not become closer as the series progresses.

He who must not be named. The Wundersmith has a whole creepy parade float dedicated to him. Take that Voldemort.

The Hotel Deucalion becomes Mog’s Hogwarts with fun rooms to discover. Far too much smoking and lots of whacky residents to engage with.

And what are the trials of which the title speaks? Think of it as the Triwizard Tournament with a Talent Show at the end. All to get INTO the Wundrous society. If she doesn’t the Hunt may come for her yet.

This is a brilliant book full of magical world building, very very colourful characters and a form of transportation previously popularised in Mary Poppins, The Life and Death Brigade (Gilmore Girls) and Practical Magic. Move over broomsticks umbrellas are making a comeback.

Joking aside Harry Potter will Always remain in my heart (I know you see what I did there). But there is room in readers hearts for plenty of books. This one is going to snuggle alongside it. The one thing this book did that the Philosopher’s Stone didn’t was grab me from the first sentence. It took the introduction of the Wizarding World to draw me in. Once I was there I loved it. I loved this from : ‘The journalists arrived before the coffin did.’

So as Jupiter North does I invite you to Step Boldy into Nevermoor.

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Spellchasers by Lari Don – Series Review

A week or so ago I was part of the blog tour for the release of the final book In the Spellchasers trilogy by Lari Don. Lari shared an awesome post about witches and I let you know what I thought about the first book in the series.

I’ve finished books 2 and 3 now so below is my review of these, which will contain spoilers for book 1, so if you haven’t read that go back to the original post linked above instead.

Reading Order

Book 1 – The Beginner’s Guide to Curses

Book 2 – The Shapeshifter’s Guide to Running Away

Book 3 – The Witch’s Guide to Magical Combat

So in book one our protagonist Molly is cursed by a witch and has to join a Curse Breaking Workshop with a group of other teens all trying to break the curses set upon them. Some are successful, some find ways around their curse and poor Molly no joy for her. Like I said in my original review it was a great introduction to the magical world and the characters and I definitely wanted to read on.

In book two Molly’s curse gets worse and she is less able to control turning back into a girl. In an effort to find out what has happened the group delve more into the world of the Curse-Hatched Crows and we realise that it isn’t only Molly who is danger. Those who have cast curses are too, and that includes one of the group. Once the group find out what is happening they are sent on a challenge to find an item to save the Promise Keeper (controller of curses).

Finally in book three Molly’s curse gets even worse. Now she finds herself turning into the prey of whatever predator she hears. Being a speedy hare was bad enough but a worm?

Turns out the Promise Keeper is now a teenager and is after a bit of entertainment.

Still holding to their promise to help Molly break her curse the original curse breaking class work together once more but Dryad Beth is struggling with the use of dark magic amongst them and really doesn’t want Molly to transform into a witch to break her curse. But with Molly’s safety ever more at risk it doesn’t look like she has many other options other than magical combat.

I really enjoyed the series. All of the main group of characters were really interesting, and Molly in particular as the human girl thrust into a magical world was a very empathetic character. The baddies were a bit more stereotypical although there were some characters introduced in the last book that definitely worked more with shades of grey.

The story arc between the three books was cleverly plotted to build upon the previous book and the action was well paced. I liked the way the internal and external threat of Molly’s curse ramped up between and within books and I thought the ending was satisfying and a little unexpected.

All in all a great UK based middle grade fantasy series. Thanks once again to the publishers and Lori for the copies provided for the purposes of this honest review.

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller – Blog Tour

Synopsis

The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.

Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming.

What I Thought

Virtual Reality has been around in science fiction for a long time but now science fact is catching up it’s about time for a resurgence in the genre.

This book is a commentary on the lives we are already living online. Otherworld boasts no rules to follow and no laws to break. Some people already seem to think that the internet is a place where they can be their worst self. Otherworld takes this to the next level. The Company say Otherworld is a place to Live Your Best Lives and not to let Reality hold you back.

It’s so easy with what is going on in the world right now to want to escape. In Otherworld you engage with ‘people like you’ just like we connect with pockets of people who think the same as us online. It’s about mass media as social control. About letting real bodies and minds decay. About addiction. It’s also about fondness for the good old days and I can certainly hear Company CEO Milo saying ‘Make Otherworld Great Again’.

It also explores the use of technology for health related benefits, how technology can interact with users brains but also how that could be exploited. It’s a brave new world but we need rules and laws and morals to navigate.

Protagonist Simon is a wise-cracking gamer geek – someone who wants to be in the first wave, see what the fuss is about. He also wants to reconnect with Kat, a childhood friend who stopped talking to him IRL. Something shady is going on and he wants to find out what.

He has help from a cast of characters including the mysterious ‘Clay Man’ in Otherworld and others including Busara IRL to help Kat and keep himself alive. This new technology means that if he dies in the game he literally dies. Would you be ready to play?

The action was fast paced and I liked Simon. The creepy wasteland ‘Children’ were an interesting touch and I think I’d have preferred for those parts to be explored a different way.

With the film of Ready Player One coming out there will be inevitable comparisons but RPO is a flashback to those that like 80s gameplay – It’s much more of a quest book. This is more dystopian in feel. Who is The Company and what is their real agenda?

This is the first book in a trilogy. The second book Otherearth comes out next year To find out more #visitOtherworld – I’ll definitely be coming back! https://www.visitotherworld.com/

I have YALC and the wonderful team at Rock the Boat for my ARC of Otherworld. Opinions are all mine.

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