book review

The Luminaries by Susan Dennard | ARC-Review


I’ve recently been in a mood to read books set in or around forests. I read Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston and simply wanted more. So when I asked for recommendations on instagram, Friederike told me to read The Luminaries. Luckily for me, I was approved for a copy on Netgalley and could start right away. Which I did. Continue reading to find out if I enjoyed this book as much as I expected.

What is it about?


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.

the luminaries

Book: The Luminaries | Series: The Luminaries #1 | Author: Susan Dennard | Publisher: Daphne Press | Release Date: 26.01.2022 | Genre: YA paranormal | Pages: 336 | Rep: Black side characters, mlm side characters | TW: blood, PTSD, alcohol consumption, bullying

My Opinion

Hemlock Falls and the forest surrounding it managed to grow roots in my brain. By that I mean that I read The Luminaries at the beginning of the month and not a day has gone by that I didn’t think of it. For a lot of reasons. For one, I simply love stories with forests. Forests are gorgeous and this one was described in all its glory. Where comes another reason into play: I am the biggest scaredy cats of all and the creepier scenes were described so well, I felt myself panic a little. Anyways, this forest lives in my head. Maybe not rent free but almost.

“They say that spring never comes to the forest by Hemlock Falls.”

That said, I did love Winnie, the protagonist. Ever since her dad betrayed her family and the whole town of Hemlock Falls, Winnie, her mother and brother have been outsiders. They’re mostly ignored on better days, treated like lower beings and being bullied on the worse. Winnie wants nothing more than to belong again. She grew up wanting to be a Hunter, someone going into the forest at night to keep the nightmares at bay. She trains herself in secret, while enduring the town’s terrible treatment. She tries to harden against it all, but she can’t, not really. Not when the town’s appreciation is what she wants so desperately.
I really liked how resilient and resourceful Winnie is and how the story is very focused on her personal development. Winnie is such a well written character and I Ioved her monologues. I especially loved her scenes in the forest because there, she is still herself but she has to also be more. She fights for what she wants and I really liked how she went about achieving her goals.

I also enjoyed the other characters. I didn’t necessarily like them but I liked reading about them. I especially liked the twins who, despite the fact that Winnie is technically an outcast, are always nice to her and try to befriend her. They’re just so nice and I love them so much for it. I’m really excited to see where Jay’s character is going because there are so. many. secrets. surrounding him.

“Then she spots it: the mist. It is white, thick, and hungry. Moment by moment it slithers over the forest, erasing the trees from sight.”

As I already said, I loved the forest. For atmospheric reasons, I do recommend reading The Luminaries on an autumn night. The book is set in spring but it definitely has an autumn vibe more than anything. I loved how scary it was but how lovely it could be during the day. I loved the training scenes as well as the panic-heavy, darker scenes of the nights, of nightmares and danger. I loved how the forest was not only a place for the characters to be, but it felt like a character of its own.

I do have some questions regarding the world building in the Luminaries, especially when it comes to the society of Hunters and their enemies, as well as the nightmares, spirits and their existence. After reading this book, I absolutely cannot wait to continue the story and see where Winnie will take me.
The Luminaries was such an amazing book that I loved reading from page one.

“And the forest looks on with knowing eyes.”




forests | estranged best friends working together | a good sibling relationship | monsters | autumn vibes | fierce women | resourceful characters | closeknit societies | secret societies


Have you read The Luminaries? Do you plan to? What books can you recommend that involve a forest? Are you easily scared by books?

Until next time,


  1. Hi!

    I love that you loved The Luminaries as much as I did! The world of the Hunters is so intriguing and I loved Winnie for the same reasons you listed. The forest gave me chills in the best way and I can’t wait to read the book again before book two comes out later this year. (And I’ll probably read it again even before that because Hemlock Falls has already become a comfort place for me – even though the towns folk treated Winnie and her family really badly.)

    all the best

    1. I love that Hemlock Falls is a comfort place for you when it’s a place full of weird people and surrounded by a creepy forest 😀 though I do understand where you come from, Susan Dennard really managed to capture the town and the forest. I’m really looking forward to book 2! 🙂

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