The Luminaries by Susan Dennard is a YA fantasy novel with horror elements and the first book in a new series. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at a little under ten hours and is narrated by Caitlin Davies. We follow our main character with a solo third-person point-of-view.
Hemlock Falls isn’t your typical rural town. The city is protected by the Luminaries, an ancient order that saves the world every night by killing the monsters that appear in the surrounding forest. Winnie Wednesday’s family was shunned after her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor years before. To get her family back into their good graces, she decides to take on the sometimes-deadly Luminary hunter trials on her sixteenth birthday. But she might need a bit of help in training from her ex-best friend Jay Friday, aka the resident bad boy.
When I started reading this book, I wasn’t aware it was the start of a new series, so please keep that in mind if you’re like me and like to binge series. I do plan to continue with the series, as the world seems pretty cool and I have a few theories I’d like to see if I’m correct about.
I’m still a little confused on how the monsters here are formed, and on the “big bad” Dianas–a group of witches who appear to be the mortal enemies of the Luminaries. I’m guessing we’ll get more information about those things in later installments of the series.
The pacing goes at a good clip, so if you’re looking for some YA to scratch a thriller itch, this could satisfy that craving for you. There’s also a wee bit of romance to curb that want as well.
If you dislike repetitious sounds, I want to briefly mention that several characters–including our main character–seem to have a habit of them. Our main character clicks her teeth together, which makes me worry for her dental bills, and another character consistently blows bubbles with bubble gum. I’m guessing these were supposed to be quirks for the characters, or maybe signs of OCD/stims? That’s unclear, though.
Tropes in this book include: supernatural creatures, nerdy FMC, FMC with glasses, outsider
CW: body horror, death, murder, gaslighting, abandonment, anxiety, panic attacks
The publisher provided a audio ARC of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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