AUTHOR: Jessica Townsend
NOTE: As this is a sequel, this review will contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. If you haven't read that book yet and wish to go in unspoiled, don't keep scrolling.
PLOT SUMMARY: Morrigan Crow has successfully completed her Trials and won a place in the Wundrous Society. Within Wunsoc, she is a safe, protected, and respected member of society. Or at least, she would be, in theory. The trouble is, Morrigan is a Wundersmith -- she has the ability to control and manipulate Wunder, the very fabric of Nevermoor. Not only are her abilities powerful, they have a bad reputation. The only other currently living Wundersmith is known as "the evilest man to ever live," and Morrigan knows that if anyone outside of a select few learn the truth about her, she could be thrown out of Wunsoc, and probably Nevermoor altogether. As Morrigan tries to cope with her new role in Wunsoc, things get a whole lot worse when it becomes clear that someone knows Morrigan's secret -- and they're willing to blackmail her whole unit with it.
FIRST THOUGHTS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE NEVERMOOR SO MUCH YOU GUYS. Okay, now that that's out of my system... I am happy to report that this is a more than worthy followup to the first book in the Nevermoor series. If anything, Wundersmith is even better. I am truly hooked on this series, and the worst thing about this book is now I have to wait another year (or... *shudder* even longer) for book three.
THOUGHTS ON PLOT: The primary conflict of the book is Morrigan's struggle to fit in at Wunsoc, and come to terms with her role as a Wundersmith. (Which, predictably, isn't helped by the fact that a lot of people -- including most of the adults -- view Morrigan as a threat because of her abilities. Seriously, I wanted to slap most of the adults in this story at least once.) Even with all the magic and action -- both of which were fantastic, don't get me wrong -- the real driving force of the story is Morrigan's emotional growth. It was really great to see her develop and navigate all these difficult situations, especially when it all got tied into the larger plot with Ezra Squall and the various magical goings-on in Nevermoor. I really hope future installments show us more of the inner-workings of Wunsoc, too -- I'm especially curious about what it is that Jupiter does all day long.
9 / 10
THOUGHTS ON CHARACTERS: I talked a lot in my review of the first book about how much I love Morrigan as a protagonist, and believe me when I say that that hasn't changed. I loved seeing Morrigan's character growth here, and her relationship with her mentor Jupiter develop. Jupiter wasn't in this book as much as I would've liked, but that did have the silver lining of providing more room for the (many, many) supporting characters. This book introduced a lot of characters, mostly the other kids in Morrigan's unit, and the staff at Wunsoc. I really liked a lot of the minor characters, especially the dual-personality'd Miss Murgatroyd / Miss Dearborn. (It makes sense in context. Sort of.) My only real complaint is that the main villain of the story (and, likely, the series), Ezra Squall, wasn't in it much. I know that less is more, and it's probably creepier if we only see him every now and again -- but still. I found his developing dynamic with Morrigan to be really interesting, and I'd like to get more into his character and backstory. Who knows, maybe one of these days we'll find out why he's literally the worst person on Earth.
9 / 10
THOUGHTS ON WRITING STYLE: Still wonderful. Townsend's prose is extremely easy to get into, and once you stop reading, it's difficult to stop -- I finished the back half of the book in a single sitting. Townsend's also really, really good at exposition, which is a must for a good fantasy series. It can be difficult to explain all the rules and lore of a magical world without getting infodumpy about it. (Trust me. I'm speaking from experience.)
9 / 10
THOUGHTS ON POLITICAL STUFF: A step up from the previous installment, in the sense that there are a lot more female-centered relationships. I was really glad we got to see more of Cadence in this installment, and her friendship with Morrigan develop. In terms of representation of POC and queer people, it's about the same, but I am optimistic about future installments.
7 / 10
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you haven't read Nevermoor yet, I implore you to pick it up. Seriously. I am obsessed with this series, and I am determined to drag as many people down with me as I possibly can. It's one of the best young readers' series around, and it's great for the adults, too. So, go back and read the first book, then read this one, and then come scream with me.
FINAL GRADE: 8.5 / 10
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If you've read Wundersmith, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!