Oct 31, 2022

ARC Review--The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.

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.

"You'll want to get lost in the world of The Luminaries again and again.”—Leigh Bardugo, #1 New York Times bestselling author

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

I had the immense pleasure to read Susan Dennard’s The Luminaries early and it was everything I had been hoping for! I took part in Susan’s 2019 Twitter Choose Your Own Adventure story, and when she announced she’d be making it into a full length novel, I got excited!! While the story is no longer the same, all the elements are still there and it was everything!!

Winnie is a Wednesday and her family is in year  four of their ten year banishment. Her father betrayed the Luminaries by siding with the Dianas, their enemies. But since Winnie is turning 16 and there are no rules of a “banished” member from participating in the Luminaries trial to protect the town from the monsters that live in the surrounding woods, she’s going for it!

Winnie is to undergo three trials with the other teenagers. This is a pass or fail kind of trial and if you fail, that’s it. There are no second tries. Her first task is to kill a monster, any monster and return with its head. When she was trying to hunt a banshee however, something else gets to it first. When Winnie tries to explain what happened and what she saw, no one really listens and thinks she killed the monster on her own. Suddenly it’s like everyone has forgotten the banishing and is nice to her and her family again. 

Winnie knows she’s going to need training and a bit more help to be prepared for her next trials. So she finds herself turning to one of her old friends, Jay Friday. Jay has always been the quiet type, but he was one of her closest friends before everyone turned on her. While Jay never was cruel to her, he also just wasn’t there. But now suddenly he is and is more than willing to help out. 

Though she continues to train, Winnie cannot seem to convince anyone of the mysterious monster in the woods. There’s no proof of its existence and it’s infuriating Winnie that no one wants to listen. 

This book was all sorts of awesomeness! You don’t have to know anything about the Twitter adventure to read this story, as the plot elements have changed. Fans of the adventure will still see favorite “ugh, Jay” and “boop” moments that will be just as entertaining to newcomers as it is for them!

While there is a hint of romance, there are no strong signs of it other than looks; lots of looks and lingering. We know something is coming and I cannot wait! While I always love a good enemies to lovers, there is something to be said about friends to lovers too!

While things do tend to wrap up by the end of this one, there’s still plenty of story left to tell. This book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger thankfully, but it does leave you with a few questions. I’m definitely curious about the mystery monster which remains a mystery still at the end. 

Along the way we do see great relationships developing, whether it’s family, friendships, or the hint of something more. I really enjoyed seeing these! Winnie was a great character and I loved that she wore glasses! We need more heroines with glasses! They were always sliding down her nose which is a struggle no matter how you have them tightened because you can have them too painfully tight, so sliding down happens!

All in all, The Luminaries was an incredible read! It was an amazing adventure filled with action, terrifying creatures, underlying secrets and mysteries, and the hint of a budding romance! This book hits all the marks of a great read and it truly is what it is!

Overall Rating 5/5 stars

The Luminaries releases November 8, 2022


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