Jessica Townsend’s Hollowpox was at the very top of my highly anticipated reads of 2020, and I confess to doing a little happy dance when it arrived at my local indie two days ahead of its official publication date.
Like its tricksy lanes, you never know where you are going to end up when you venture into a Nevermoor novel, but you can be sure you’ll come out of the other end having run the whole gamut of emotions and, this, the third book in the series does not disappoint.
When Wunimals are hit by a terrible disease with no cure in sight, the whole community gets caught up in the eye of a moral and political storm – big (and rather timely!) issues which, in the author’s expert hands, are described in a way that never talks down to the child reader.
These threads, of course, have Morrigan Crow at their knotted heart, and to untangle them, Mog must learn to use the wretched arts – unfortunately, the only real, live person who can teach her to use them to their fullest is also the evilest man in history – fellow Wundersmith Ezra Squall (the audience boos!).
But just like the Deucalion, which grows and changes in response to Morrigan’s shifting moods and needs, Proudfoot house and its terrifying School Mistresses also have some hidden depths that may provide at least some of the answers Morrigan so desperately needs.
Themes of what makes a family, and the growing pains that come with trying to discover your place in the world, continue to play a central role in this series, and it is heartwarming to see how far Mog has come. While this book can stand on its own two feet, we are left with an inkling that this story still has more to unfold. I certainly hope so!
With new characters and locations popping up alongside our old favourites (Fenestra, anyone?), Jessica Townsend’s trademark humour is stamped all over the novel, and while I refuse to give away any spoilers, Dame Chanda and Frank’s discussion about perfume still has me snorting with laughter.