Hollowpox: The hunt for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

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Hatchette Australia, 2020. ISBN: 9780734418241.
(Age: 9+) Highly recommended. Hollowpox: The hunt for Morrigan Crow is the third book in the popular Nevermoor series written by young Queensland author Jessica Townsend. Readers of Nevermoor and Wundersmith will not be disappointed in Hollowpox as the author has certainly maintained her momentum in creating an intensely exciting and imaginative read that continues the enthralling journey of Morrigan Crow. The story begins with thirteen year old Morrigan arriving at Station 919 and enjoying the quiet moments before her eight fellow 'brothers and sisters - Loyal for Life' arrive. They travel to Wunsoc, the Wundrous Society's 100 acre campus to begin their final day of the term. Surprisingly they all have a timetable change and take a new class labelled "Containment and Distraction" together. The reason for this class is simply quite brilliant. The bond these nine very talented and clever scholars have developed is instrumental to the storyline and throughout the course of the book they are called upon to support each other often. The chapter titled 'Book Bugs' is true testament to this loyalty. Morrigan spends her evenings and term holidays in the extraordinary Hotel Deucalion living with her patron Jupiter North and an assortment of larger than life characters always involved in the most unbelievable and often humourous situations. In this story Morrigan begins to be trained in the Wundrous Arts of being a Wundersmith and becomes completely fixated with the process of learning from The Book of Ghostly Hours. Running parallel to her training is an unfolding drama with the peaceful Wunimals turning violent after contracting what is suspected initially of being a virus. It is given the name Hollowpox as after the Wunimal has exhibited ferocious and uncharacteristic behaviours they are left hollow. The city of Nevermore is placed in lockdown, curfews are set and Wunimals are left in isolation. This is so reminiscent of Australia in 2020 that readers will clearly be able to identify with the feelings of the characters. It also highlights elements of racism in the Nevermore community and the sense of fear of the unknown that creates chaotic and dangerous situations. The evil Ezra Squall reappears in this story and his bond and interaction with Morrigan continues. Will Morrigan be able to save Nevermore from the Hollowpox curse and at what cost?
For those readers who have not yet read the first two books in the series or those that are worried they may have forgotten elements, do not fear as the author has cleverly interwoven aspects of the first two books into the story to subtly provide background information. The ability of Jessica Townsend to continue to hold her audience's interest and to explore and write using her fanciful imagination allows this novel to be a fabulous read for both children and adults.
Themes: Themes: Magic, Fantasy, Adventure, Good vs evil, Friendship, School, Danger, Humour, Loyalty.
Kathryn Beilby