Hi everyone! It’s time for another review! I don’t have many ARCs left for the rest of 2022, so I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to get to all those ARCs that I missed earlier this year. This is the next book from the author of the Witchlands series, of which I did read the first two books!
by Susan Dennard
Series: The Luminaries #1
Release date: November 1st 2022
Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.
Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.
Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.
But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.
Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.
I really liked the idea of this book with a secret society that hunts monsters and keeps humanity safe. That in itself isn’t such a unique idea, I’ve read plenty of books that have a similar premise but I enjoyed Susan Dennards take!
The plot was pretty straightforward, with Winnie trying to pass her hunter trials so that her family will be accepted by the Luminary society again after her father was revealed to be a witch traitor. And again, trials/competitions are pretty prevalent in YA but I loved the way that the monsters made it feel unique.
I wish that we had gotten more backstory on the monsters and their origins because it was really interesting that they come from a spirit that dreams them up, and the older the spirit gets the more the monsters evolve. I’m hoping we get more of that in the next book, considering the way a few plot lines ended and the clues that were dropped about the witches and Winnie’s dad.
I liked the way that the clans were set up with days of the week, so there is the Monday clan, Tuesday clan, Wednesday clan, etc. The only thing I’m not super clear on is that’s also people’s last names, but not everyone in a clan has that last name and they aren’t actually all related so I’m not sure how that ends up as a last name for a bunch of unrelated people.
I didn’t love this as much as I was hoping for a few reasons. I’m closer to 30 than I am to being a teen and I found a lot of Winnie’s thoughts and feelings didn’t resonate with me as much now as they would’ve if I were 10 years younger. I found I was getting irritated with Winnie for those moments where she’s wondering what others think of her outfits and if someone likes her or not and at times it read even younger than that. There were also things that made me cringe, like the fact that Winnie’s full name is Wednesday Winona Wednesday. I can’t decide if I think that’s creative or uncreative, but when I read that part about her name, I rolled my eyes so hard I felt like I could see my brain.
I would love to see more worldbuilding in the second book some more fleshing out of characters like Jay and the twins who seem really interesting, but there just wasn’t a lot of development especially with Jay.
I enjoyed this book while reading it, and I’ll probably pick up the sequel because I was intrigued, but with how many exceptional fantasy books I’ve read this year this one just doesn’t stand out as much as I wanted it to.