The Luminaries #1 The Luminaries Susan Dennard

I read in an afterward that the author created the young disgraced hunter-wannabe character of Winnie Wednesday and then used polls to decide what decisions she would make in her quest to pass the three hunter trials to reinstate her family in the Luminaries society (the five families that protect the unsuspecting world from nightmares that arise with the mist every night in the forest nearby).

Apparently this is not that poll-lead story, but a version of it written as a novel…but still.

I think the randomness of the directions the plot sometimes went made this one a little flaky at times for me…like….why is there so much time between the trials even though it seems like they should be the very next day? Or why does there seem to be no consequences really for Winnie butting into the trials, or why nobody else has seen the mysterious deadly Whisperer in the forest but some people have seen the werewolf?

It has a very contrived plot feeling, but for those who like YA magic school fiction, this would be catnip. Winnie gets to describe each family and their Luminary duties, their estates, and the different kinds of nightmares classified in the compendium of creatures, etc.

Winnie slowly regains her family’s status in the Luminaries by passing challenges, but its unclear to me the real risk involved actually matters in the plot (folks die) and when she accidentally “cheats” the whole hand-wringing over it became stale after a while.

And…it ends on a giant cliffhanger. I mean, not really a cliffhanger in terms of the werewolf because there were a thousand clues before the final smell of bergamot and lime…but anyway….as I was saying…..super fun YA fantasy school tropes, first book in an obvious series, nothing resolved, plucky heroine.

Second book isn’t out yet as I’m writing this review, and if I don’t remember to look up the sequel later, I won’t cry too much.