Why did I wait so long to read it?
From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.
An Instant New York Times Bestseller
A Barnes & Noble YA Book Club Pick
An Indigo Best Teen Book of 2022
A Junior Library Guild Pick
An Indie Next Pick
A Goodreads Most Anticipated YA Book
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 enlists 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.
5 resounding stars!
Narrator: Caitlin Davies
I am torn between: “Why did I wait so long to read it?” because it was fantastic and “I am glad I waited so long before reading it” because I’ll have to wait only a few weeks for the sequel! 😊
What to say about that book?
Maybe that it has a lot of my favorite “ingredients” in stories!
First we are dealing with an underdog as main character!
Winnie Wednesday has been thrown out of her Luminaries clan, alongside with her mom and brother because her dad was revealed to be an enemy undercover! For four years, she has been shunned by her classmates and ignored by every Luminaries, not able to attend Sunday school where they train in the hope of becoming a hunter in the month of their sixteenth birthday!
Yet Winnie dreams of becoming a hunter! For four years, she has trained secretly and alone because she is determined to enter the hunter’s trials!
You can imagine that she is not only an outcast but she is four years behind! So that certainly makes her the underdog in the trials!
Second, I love the world building!
The story happens in Hemlock Falls where the forest is home to monsters and nightmares coming to life every night after the mist has risen. Kelpies, werewolves (also called day walkers), revenants, manticores … you have a lot of monstrous creatures in that story! Winnie has memorized them all from the Compendium and she is drawing them for years.
The Luminaries are the “good guys”, protectors of humanity in killing nightmares. They have sworn enemies: witches called the Dianas who don’t want to kill the nightmares but exploit their magic.
The small town and clan vibe!
Hemlock Falls is a small town. A secluded community built around seven clans of hunters. The Mondays to the Sundays. Each clan has a head hunter, a head of the clan and its own specialty.
The competition or rather the trials!
I love competitions or trials in books! Having to overcome ordeals, to be better than others and becoming a winner is always guaranteed to capture my attention! The hunter trials is a deadly competition where kids enter on their sixteen birthday and can die trying! I loved reading the trials Winnie had to face! The violence, the death, the fear! I was in the forest alongside her, fighting demons, running for my life and climbing trees or jumping above running water.
The friends to enemies to probably more than friends trope.
Before becoming an outcast, Winnie had two best friends. Erica Thursday and Jay Friday. Once it was established her father was a Diana in disguise and Winnie has been cast out, gone was their friendship!
Four years later, Jay is a badass hunter with lots of bad boy vibes (think: distressed jeans, smelling of pot or smoke and playing bass in a band) even if he seems to me to be a big softie inside! If Winnie has any hope of surviving the trials, she needs someone to train her! And who is better suited than badass Jay? And you can guess that as the story progresses, I got some strong vibes of attraction between these two!
And of course, there is a twist! A hidden danger in the forest that only Winnie has seen and no one believes her when she is telling them to be cautious and do something!
As you can see, I loved that book and am very happy that its sequel will soon be released!
Winnie is a great female character: courageous (even if she’ll suffer from impostor syndrome) , determined, loyal, protective, smart but also reckless!
Trust me if you love books with lots of atmosphere and some spooky vibes, this is for you!
Also I have my theory on the werewolf and we’ll see if I am correct…. 😉
Thanks for reading.