Published November 1, 2022
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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
THE LUMINARIES is the first book by Susan Dennard that I’ve read, and all I can say is, what have I been doing with my life?!
I was absolutely hooked from the first page. The story world is tense and dangerous, its forest filled with monsters. Winnie had my heart from word one.
At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole clans organized by the day of the week thing? It seemed a little clunky? But once I got into the story and understood how it worked, why it worked, and that different places had the same system but used weekday names in other languages, I kind of got into it.
Okay, also, I loved the stuff with Winnie and Jay. He’s definitely got more secrets than we know about at this point, but that only made me read the book faster. It only makes me want the next book in the series sooner! Haha. I definitely liked the slow burn of their connection and the layered-ness of it.
All in all, I’d say this book is just about unputdownable. I started it in the morning one day and didn’t go to sleep until I’d finished every page. It made me think a little bit of A FAR WILDER MAGIC by Allison Saft, which I also really enjoyed. I haven’t read Susan Dennard’s other books, so I can’t compare this to those, but I’m much more likely to pick up her Witchlands series now.
Sooz Your Own Luminaries Adventures on Twitter
So the idea for the story began as a series of polls on Twitter where author Susan Dennard created what she calls a “Sooz-Your-Own-Adventure.” I love that. You can read the original thread here. If you’ve already read the book, you’ll recognize some of the characters from the thread, though the events in the book are not the ones described in the thread. THE LUMINARIES is its own story.
Additionally, in the days leading up to the book’s release, Susan Dennard had another “Sooz-Your-Own-Adventure” Luminaries thread going with daily polls and more chances to participate in the storytelling.
I love this! She’s absolutely cracked the code on creating engaging polls, and the threads made me laugh more than once.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
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I haven’t read anything by Susan Dennard either and am super excited to start this series. Thanks for the great review. Natalie @ Literary Rambles
Yay! I hope you love it, too. Seems like the whole series is going to be really fun. 🙂 Thank you, Natalie!