Quite simply, it's a ripper of a story.
But it does run the risk of being compared to other well-known books in this genre - the 'cursed' child, on the outside, ignored, rejected by her unsympathetic family. A strong sense of injustice and loneliness.. A rite-of-passage birthday. Portents and signs. A special school. A letter. A stranger to the rescue. Unknown dangers. The promise and excitement of a new, hidden world where Morrigan gets a chance to belong. An evil presence, banished but threatening to return. Quests and challenges to find the best of the best. Hidden talents. The power of friendship and kindness.
There's nothing wrong with using all the tropes available to you, but I did find them rather obvious at times.
Despite this, or maybe because of it, Nevermoor fitted like a glove. Tropes not only help the writer, but the reader also, to feel comfortable and at home with a genre. Townsend has created a richly imagined world and a slightly goth-like protagonist. The opening sentence is dramatic and instantly engaging - 'The journalists arrived before the coffin did.’
The main characters will hopefully be fleshed out and given more nuance and backstory as the series develops. At the moment everyone seems to be there simply to engage with Morrigan.
Townsend 's creation of the umbrella underground was interesting and helped to explain the Australian cover. She also included lots of action, snappy dialogue and left me wanting more.
I'm always fascinated by cover choice.
I really liked the proof cover jacket - mine was even simpler than this one. It only had the one word - Nevermoor - blazened in shiny gold with shiny gold sparkles all around it.
The official Australian cover gave the story a Mary Poppins feel. Personally, not my favourite choice. It has put off many male readers.
The UK cover makes the book look like it's for a much younger reader than the 10+ I'd recommend.
The US cover went for a lighter version of the Mary Poppins cover. I spotted the cat in the window for the first time in this cover though.
The hardcover edition - a nice mix of my favourite proof cover with the UK one.
The Scandinavian cover makes Jupiter North look like Willy Wonka and suggests that the umbrella's could also be weapons, not just a mode of transport.
The German cover has a Philip Pullman feel. I rather like the elegant blue frame.
The Serbian cover has gone very Goth and makes Morrigan look very unwell.
And finally - the promise of book 2 in October!
CBCA Notable book (shortlist March 27)