Book Reviews, YA book reviews

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard – ARC Review


My Rating ~ Four Stars

4-gold-stars copy

RELEASE DATE:  8 November 2022

Format: E-ARC

Publisher: Macmillan

Source:  NetGalley

Pages: 304


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. And there’s only 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.



Thank you to Macmillan, for providing me with a copy of this book, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review!

I’ve been avoiding fantasy books like the plague recently – nothing can hold my interest, but The Luminaries finally did it!  I understand this story started as a ‘choose your own adventure’ style story on Twitter?  I knew nothing about that (and still don’t, other than it was) so I had no prior information before starting the book.

Monsters and dark forests are always my jam and this book had the creepy atmosphere and detailed monster descriptions down pat.  I loved that the main character, Winnie, was so into the anatomy and behaviour of the ‘Nightmares’.  It gave great insight and enhanced the visual aspect of what the hunters were facing in the forest. I really appreciated the way Winnie didn’t just accept everyone’s sudden return to her life , after ignoring and ridiculing her for the prior four years, too.  It was much more realistic than the ‘oh well we’re all happy families, water under the bridge’ type story that often happens in these situations.  I loved that she stayed determined to achieve her own goal, despite the treatment she received from the town.

I understand this is to be a series, but there were just so many plot lines left unfinished by the end.  I found that a bit off putting.  It felt like nothing at all was wrapped up – even the very obvious ‘twist’ that I’m sure is coming.  I just wish more of the important aspects had been explained.  Winnie’s dad being a ‘Diana’ is a major plot point, however, what is a Diana?  It’s hinted they’re some type of spellcasters but don’t recall a proper explanation at all – we’re just told that her dad is one,  and that he’s a traitor, therefore Winnie’s family have been outcasted.

The book is very YA and felt like a ‘not too complicated’ read, but it was exactly what I needed to enjoy a bit of a fantasy again.  I am absolutely looking forward to the next book though – where I hope a little more will be revealed and explained.


Image from my Instagram account


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