By Susan Dennard
Published November 2022
The Luminaries are a society of families scattered around the globe, charged with protecting the rest of the world from nightmares that come to life during the night. Since Luminaries are human, just like anyone else, being a hunter is the highest calling any of them have. Winnie Wednesday has wanted nothing more than to join the hunter’s ranks – until her father betrayed the Luminaries and made his family outcasts. Winnie, her mom, and her brother have been shunned for four years, but Winnie finds a way around the rules to join the hunter’s trials on her sixteenth birthday.
Unfortunately, she’s woefully out of practice and turns to the one person who can help her train – Jay, her former best friend and local bad boy. Even with his help, Winnie might not survive the trials. But if she does, her family will regain their former standing, which is what she’s wanted all along. Even as she succeeds in the trials, Winnie uncovers a nightmare no one has ever seen. One that’s more powerful than anything in the Compendium. And no one believes her.
Considering this is the first book in a new series, there’s a lot happening and the majority of this book is either a set-up for the subplots or establishes the history of pretty much everyone around Winnie. Here’s a quick recap of what the series should cover (based on this book): Winnie’s dad betrayed the Luminaries to the Dianas, a group of witches and the Luminaries’ foe (or did he?). There’s no love lost between Winnie and her other former best friend, so that relationship is strained. There’s a werewolf on the loose, as well as the new nightmare threat. And lastly, something is going on with Jay that’s heavily hinted at but never addressed face on (although I have a hunch where that plot line is going).
So, a lot to look forward to but unfortunately, all of the set up and backstory dragged the pacing through the first three-fourths of the book. The worldbuilding and societal structure is really well done, but it’s complex and the author made sure I understood it. It wasn’t until Winnie’s last trial when things picked up but when that happened, it was some of the best action scenes I’ve read in awhile.
I’d recommend this, even though these warrior mentalities always leave me scratching my head. I’m not sure if I’d recommend this to younger readers, despite it being YA, since some of the scenes might be a little intense for anyone not yet in high school.
Final rating: 3.75/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
I’ll be keeping my eye out for the next installment.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.