Reviews /

The Unmorrow Curse

Authored by Jasmine Richards
Published by UCLan Publishing

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Myths have endured for a reason, they are cracking tales, full of adventure and intrigue, but also boasting the moral depth and explanatory power for which they were first devised. It’s of little surprise then that, from Sophie Anderson to Kevin Crossley-Holland, children’s authors have tapped into these rich veins of traditional storytelling for narrative and thematic inspiration.

Jasmin Richards is the latest such author to go digging, for her book The Unmorrow Curse. When Loki kidnaps the ‘day guardian’ Sunna in revenge for imprisoning him centuries earlier, the world finds itself unknowingly stuck repeating the same Saturday. Friends Buzz and Mari are two of the few people who can see this loop is happening and set off on an adventure to locate a series of magical runes and uncover the other ‘day guardians’, who are hidden inside of human hosts. Only by doing this can they hope to defeat Loki and set the world back on the right course.

The prologue of The Unmorrow Curse is a fantastic start to the book. Not only does it kick off with a tense action scene but it immediately makes you sympathise with the ‘bad guy’. You might not agree with what Loki is doing but you can clearly see that he has been wronged and can understand his motives. This could have been an interesting dilemma for the reader to grapple with throughout the book, but it was rather given a back seat (as Loki reverted to being a more traditional fiery and devilish fantasy villain) before returning as an idea at the end.

Weaving in the characters of Norse mythology adds instant weight to the story, as readers can bring their own knowledge of the traditional tales to the book. I think it is important for readers of The Unmorrow Curse to have this hinterland, as, because there are so many characters, they are afforded little time for meaningful characterisation. This is exacerbated by the inclusion of characters from the mythologies of other cultures too. Part of me thinks the book could work better as a series (a series is indeed on the way, which I will definitely be following), allowing characters the time to come, go and grow, rather than feeling like rushed cameos – I am definitely intrigued to know more about Richards’s incarnation of Saturn.

These are incarnations, rather than straight representations, of mythological characters, with the gods of old reimagined as shadows of their former selves, adapting to survive in a modern world that has forgotten them. Again, I would have loved Richards to have more time to explore this theme. I think this sums up The Unmorrow Curse, it is a cracking idea but, across this one book, it did not have time to fully explain its world beyond the immediate unfolding narrative. However, with further instalments on the way, it is definitely a series to watch out for, especially for fans of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Amari etc.

The Unmorrow Curse is a pacy and enjoyable read, with a balance of excitement and humour. As such, I have no doubt many UKS2 children will love it. The unconventional twists on mythology probably make it unsuitable for topic linked work but as a shared read aloud or independent read, it could definitely fit the bill.

You can listen to Jasmine talking to Nikki Gamble In the Reading Corner about her career in publishing and her hopes for the future of Storymix here: