WUNDERSMITH : The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
Rating: 3/5 stars.
How likely am I to recommend Wundersmith to others? 5/10. I found it formulaic.
Will you read the next book in the series? Yes. I’ll read along with my daughter.
The Nevermoor series tells the story of a girl, who having escaped her cursed life with help from a benefactor, finds herself in a secret, magical city. Wundersmith (book 2 in the series) finds her in her first year of a school-like society where she must learn about her new home and face-off against her evil foe. Sound familiar? For me, it was. A little bit too familiar ...
I don’t like being critical because the truth is I really liked this book. I just failed to love it. The magical city of Nevermoor is unique and imaginative, and the concept of the Museum is both deeply disturbing and well written. It was rounded, I felt I understood that place despite it’s atrocity. The plot tension grew quickly towards the end and I didn’t see the plot twist coming. I just failed to be moved by it when I feel like I should’ve been.
My problem was that I couldn’t shake an overwhelming feeling that I’ve read this plot before. Consequently, I struggled to read this book as it’s own story. I kept finding similarities between Wundersmith and Harry Potter, which really frustrated me. For example, in Wundersmith we follow three independent, strong-willed school-aged children who explore a magical world together, at times breaking rules. We have an evil omniscient character who is focused on entrapping and capturing the main character in isolation to her peers. Our main character has an unusual but powerful gift. We have a school like society, where our main character is held in different esteem to her peers and a caring but somewhat removed benefactor who knows all, cares greatly, but influences the story as a substitute parent.
At times, I felt like I was reading fan fiction. Normally this wouldn’t bother me, but I kept finding myself comparing the writing of Jessica Townsend to the writing of JK Rowling. The plots felt so similar that I was expecting the same depth of character and the same emotive scenes, instead I felt that some scenes were cliche and characters stereotypical. An example is a boring old professor who is portrayed, obviously, as a tortoise-derived species. He could just as easily have been a sloth or a wombat or any other slow moving creature. These cliche’s frustrated me. It’s possible that I have placed an unreasonably difficult expectation upon poor Morrigan Crow, but honestly - the book disappointed me.
So in short - I couldn’t quite shake my frustration with this book. My 14 year old daughter, however, loved it. Perhaps, my criticism is simply a result of being an old(ish) lady trying to understand modern YA fiction. Or perhaps, I simply love Harry Potter too much and nothing else adequately compares…
What do you think?