Middle grade books are a hit or miss for me.
First, a quick definition: middle grade books are generally aimed at 8-12 year olds, but you can think of it as higher level than children’s books, but not quite YA (young adult). For example, they tend to be a bit more simple in terms of who is a villain and who is a hero, and they tend to spell out the answers clearly.
Given that information, middle grade books are not written for me, so it’s not really a surprise that I don’t always love them. Some are just so simple, and the ending is telegraphed in the first chapter, and the writing is repetitive. Again, not written for me; but I think lots of MG readers are more sophisticated than some writers / editors think.
For example, Harry Potter (at least the first few books) are considered to be middle grade, so it’s clearly possible to write books that 8-year-olds and adults can both enjoy. That’s why I still try middle grade books when they look like something I might like. Well, that and the fact that I often read / listen to stories with my children, so I have to find books that I’m willing to read along with them.
When I saw the cover for Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, I immediately wanted to find out if it was a book I could love.
I absolutely did.
This series begins with a girl who is a “cursed child,” fated to die on her 11th birthday, and her family and the town blame all bad luck on her. But she is saved at the last minute by Jupiter North, proprietor of the Ducalian Hotel, who brings her to Nevermoor where she will be able to compete for a place in the Wundrous Society. An exciting, multi-stage competition is one of my favorite things in books, so I loved this. Plus, it has a complex magic system, and we find things out along with Morrigan meaning everything can be explained without making the plot seem strained. Her talent wasn’t entirely a surprise to me, but the way everything was resolved did surprise me.
Book 2, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow adds to the story and takes the magic system and society rules even further. Morrigan learns more about what the Wundrous Society does, and forms friendships with (most of) her unit. She also learns more about her own talent, both the positive and negative aspects.
Book 3, Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, pushes to another level, revealing the darker side of everything we learned in books 1&2. We find out more about Morrigan’s powers, and think about the nature of having a power — if you have a power people think is bad, does that make you bad? Does your intention matter when the result is destruction? Can written history be trusted when we know the people writing it had an agenda? This one was a bit slower (for me) plot-wise, but the kids and I still liked it as much as we liked the first two.
Book 4, Silverborn: The Mystery of Morrigan Crow, will be released in 2022, and it’s already on my TBR. Very excited to continue this series!
If you’re looking for a book that has magic, political intrigue, and hard questions about right and wrong, this is a great series to try, whether you’re a middle grade or adult reader, or anywhere between.
Have you read Nevermoor? What did you think? Or do you have any other amazing middle grade recommendations? Let us know in the comments!