Book Title: The Luminaries
Author: Susan Dennard
Release Date: November 1, 2022
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal
My rating: 4/5 Stars
A haunting 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. Only the Luminaries, a society of ancient guardians, stand between humanity and the nightmares of the forest that rise each night.
Winnie Wednesday, an exile from the Luminaries, is determined to restore her family’s good name by taking the deadly hunter trials on her sixteenth birthday. But when she turns to her ex best friend Jay Friday for help, they 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.
As someone who participated in the create your own adventure story the Luminaries originally began as on Twitter a few years ago, I was so, so excited to receive a copy of this book. While it was different than what I’d expected, I absolutely loved all the little easter eggs and teasers for those of us who participated in the polls. (The nose boop!!!)
I liked the way the world was developed. We got a lot of descriptions through Winnie’s anxious habit of reciting facts in her head when she’s nervous, which is definitely a clever way to info dump without actually making it annoying. The rest was revealed through Winnie on corpse duty and during the hunter trials. Hemlock Falls is rich with paranormal creatures lurking in the woods during the night. It was cool to see the different creatures—some familiar and some new.
Dennard’s prose was light and easy. She was able to immerse the reader in the world while still keeping the structure simple. This made The Luminaries a quick read that can be digested in one or two sittings. My only complaint with the writing was how many times Winnie’s teeth clicked. It was definitely some kind of stim done when anxious, but I feel like we didn’t need to know her teeth were clicking nearly every other page. I almost wanted to make a drinking game out of it since it was mentioned so much.
While the side characters of the Luminaries didn’t get much page time or development, Winnie and Jay were really well rounded and explored. I was already attached to Jay from the Twitter polls, so I definitely enjoyed his character a lot in the story. There’s a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding Jay, which I’m pretty sure I’ve guessed what it is, but I’ll have to wait till the next book to see!
Speaking of mystery, there was a lot of suspense built during the Luminaries. Something is definitely not right in Hemlock Falls, but Winnie’s suspicions fall on deaf ears. Only a few people believe she’s seen a strange and deadly monster, so she has to fight to be heard. I was constantly tense and curious about what was happening.
Unfortunately, by the end of the story, we have no more answers than we did at the start of it. Just when the action starts to build, the story ends. Thankfully there will be a sequel, but I was a little disappointed by the lack of answers. There’s still so much we don’t know (even if I do have some guesses!), and now we have to wait for the sequel to find out.
Even though I had issues with it, though, I did enjoy the Luminaries. It was a fun and quick read. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, cause I desperately want those answers to my questions. I still recommend reading this one, even if the ending is lacking a little bit, but as long as you know that going in, it should be fine.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
Check out my last blog post: Budding Attraction (Tour Post/Review)