The Luminaries – Book Review

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

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.

The Luminaries is an exciting start to a new young adult fantasy series. Winnie Wednesday and her family have been through a traumatic betrayal which left them practically cast out of their society. So, Winnie’s sole ambition is to become a hunter and have her family rejoin their former place. But Winnie is witness to a mysterious creature that doesn’t follow the rules of the forest. And no one seems to be taking her warnings seriously.

I love the worldbuilding and unique caste system of “families” named after days of the week (making them easy to remember), who all work together to keep the world safe from monsters. The tone is dark and eerie. And the characters are engaging. With plenty of danger, suspense, and a bit of romance – this novel is hard to put down. The next in this series can’t come soon enough, as we’re left with some major unanswered questions.

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