Book Review

The Luminaries – Susan Dennard

Today I am reviewing The Luminaries, the YA fantasy novel by Susan Dennard. Many thanks to Susan and Daphne Press for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.


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 must enlist 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. 


Being a huge Leigh Bardugo fan, when I saw her quote on the front of this book, I knew I had to read it, and I wasn’t disappointed. From the very first page, I could tell that The Luminaries was the start of what promises to be a very exciting new YA fantasy series.

The prologue made my spine tingle and the hairs on my arm stand up, and whilst the rest of the book was not as dark as this made me imagine it would be, The Luminaries was the perfect escapism from a day where my health saw me miserable, in pain and stuck in bed. Winnie’s experiences as she fights to become a Luminary hunter  were a wonderful distraction from the real world. The world that Susan Dennard has created is rich with detail and I absolutely loved the pages from the Luminary compendium, complete with illustrations, that are included – a fully illustrated compendium would make a wonderful companion book to this series (hint, hint!) The inhabitants of Hemlock Falls make up a varied and well developed cast of characters, and I soon had my favourites among them. I very quickly became engrossed in their world and it was a real wrench when I had to leave it at the end of the book.

I finished The Luminaries with more questions than answers. I have a few suspicions about these though and I cannot wait until the next book so I can see if I am right about any of them.


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