The Luminaries by Susan Dennard @stdennard @torteen

Posted November 7, 2022 by Robin in Book Review / 15 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard @stdennard @torteenThe Luminaries by Susan Dennard
Series: The Luminaries #1
Published by Tor Teen on November 1, 2022
Genres: Science Fiction Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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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.

The Luminaries is the first book in The Luminaries; it started as an experiment on twitter where the audience got to direct some of the choices the heroine made and then was converted into a novel.  I think because of that, the direction of the story takes a few unexpected twists along the way and sometimes flows a little choppily but it does make for some fun discoveries.

This is an interesting world.  There is a forest and along the border of the forest is the small specialized town of Hemlock Falls has different families/clans that are responsible for fighting off the monsters who rise in the night in that forest.  Winnie Wednesday’s family used to do that too until they became outcasts because of her father.  Now she has one chance to save what is left of her family.  She is going to have to sneak into the forest on her sixteenth birthday and try to pass the first of the trials to become a hunter.  If she can do that, she can help to move her family out of being shunned and prove her loyalty to the clan.  The only problem is Winnie is in over her head and if she can’t get help she is only going to end up dead.

Jay Friday and Winnie used to be best friends but when her family was shunned he disappeared from her life.  Now she needs his help if she is ever going to survive.  Seems like Jay has some secrets of his own and while we didn’t get to explore them much in this book I’m pretty sure I know what at least one of them is and hope we get to focus on that in the next book.

The shortcoming of this book is I think the worldbuilding wasn’t built quite enough.  The Luminaries fight the monsters in the forest that rise in the night because they are tied to a great spirit.  There are witches who are bad, although I’m not quite sure why or if there could be good witches too.  I really wanted to learn more of the Dianas (the bad guys in league with the forest spirits), what the Friday’s true function is since they seem to be better fighters than all of the other clans and I really wanted to understand what the really big bad thing in the forest is that seems to warp the world around it.

There is enough in this book to keep me really interested in the series.  There are hints to bigger plots afoot and maybe the world Winnie has grown up in has a lot of little dirty secrets that she and a few friends can ferret out.  You can tell there is going to be a nice slow burn romance possibly in the future but in the Luminaries there wasn’t really enough time to focus on it as Winnie was more worried about trying to survive than kissing boys, which for me was a nice change.  The forest was a character all by itself, I can’t wait to learn more about the world, the forest and the people of Hemlock falls.

That’s why we’re called the Luminaries, Winnie: we are lanterns the forest can never snuff out.


About Susan Dennard

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch and Windwitch as well as the Something Strange & Deadly series. When not writing, she can be found slaying darkspawn on her Xbox or earning bruises at the dojo.

Rating Breakdown
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Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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Posted November 7, 2022 by Robin in Book Review / 15 Comments

15 responses to “The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

    • My bar is maybe higher for fantasy books then others since I read so many of them but really I needed to understand the Diana’s and the Forrest just a bit better if this was going to get a higher rating.

      Robin recently posted: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard
  1. Letting the audience pick the heroine’s choices is pretty brave. Hopefully the world building will be more complete in the next one.

    Lark recently posted: Randomness...
    • I’m not on twitter so I don’t know how she did it exactly but in the acknowledgments she talks about how the experiment happened and grew into a full story. I might get on twitter just to see how it went with all the people voting.

      Robin recently posted: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard
  2. Ah – I hadn’t realised about the Twitter aspect of this one and when I finally get to read the arc, I’ll keep it in mind! Thank you for a great review, Robin – I’m looking forward to tucking into this one.