Book Review: HOLLOWPOX THE HUNT FOR MORRIGAN CROW by Jessica Townsend (Middle Grade Monday)

Title in white on blurred image of girl in black crouching on green
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - third book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for NEVERMOOR THE TRIALS OF MORRIGAN CROW and WUNDERSMITH THE CALLING OF MORRIGAN CROW*

Synopsis:

Book cover for HOLLOWPOX THE HUNT FOR MORRIGAN CROW: title in yellow above a girl in a big coat surrounded by swirling magic

Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts, and control the power that threatens to consume her.

But a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious Unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. And with the city she loves in a state of fear, Morrigan quickly realizes it’s up to her to find a cure for the Hollowpox, even if it will put her – and everyone in Nevermoor – in more danger than she ever imagined.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

Reading a book about a plague that is then used by bigoted individuals to attack those they see as less than human while in the (hopeful) beginning of the end of a virus that has also been used to fuel racism is quite an experience. Given the book was originally released about this time last year, it couldn’t have come at a better time, by sheer coincidence. It does feel very prescient, and a good way of examining prejudice and fear, and how disaster can be used to inflame them.

The NEVERMOOR books are all much longer than your typical middle grade. <50k is typical, which is ~300 pages with slightly larger font than YA or Adult. This book is almost 500 pages, and the same font as your typical YA/Adult. It’s easily over 100k, probably over 120k, which is not at all standard for this age range.

Despite that, it has the usual quick pacing of middle grade where major events happen every chapter. There’s no brief lull to provide time for a chunk of world building or philosophical discussion, like you get in adult. There’s simply just a lot that happens.

Returning to this world of sheer fun was also great. Alongside this mystery (and also examination of how the powers that be can throw people to the media in order to manipulate it, even if they’re supposed to be on your side), we get to spend more time in Nevermoor. The Wunderous Society, the school for people with unusual knacks, expands as we head deeper into its secrets. Plus there are new locations in the city to explore, like a pocket universe that is a mirror of Nevermoor, except it’s a giant library. The bookworm’s dream, until you realise it’s a Nevermoor feature, so the are plenty of monsters slipping out of books (a pretty gross sequence with bugs.)

The back of the book reveals that there is at least one more book to come in this series, which is exciting (particularly given that this book ends on the a sort of cliffhanger – the plot is wrapped up, but Morrigan’s made a choice that should be very interesting to see how it unfolds in the next book…) I think, though, there’s quite a wait until release.


Read my reviews of other books by Jessica Townsend:

Nevermoor (this series):

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