. . . but I have since had almost everything about it fall out of my head. Had I written this review right after finishing like a good little reviewer, it would have been four stars, but I think the fact that it hasn’t stuck with me and I had to look up so much in order to even write this paltry review is definitely working against the book, and I’ve bumped it down to 3.5 stars, rounded down, as a result.
Also I remembered while attempting to write this review that the author gave the MC a really annoying teeth clicking tic that is unexplained, which I hated, and also there were some really bad lines that were left in the book that really annoyed me (like the word “haha” actually in the MC’s inner monologue; I almost died when I read it).
But ultimately it’s the forgettability, and specifically the forgettability of the characters—not the worldbuilding, which I thought was really interesting.
So this is a YA fantasy about Winnie Wednesday, a former member of a group called The Luminaries, which is dedicated to hunting down nightmare creatures that spawn near weird giant spirit creatures (unclear where these come from so far) in specific geographical locations. Winnie’s former group protects/patrols a forest I think somewhere in the northern US. She has wanted to be a hunter all her life, but four years before the start of the book, her dad is found to be a spy from a group called the Dianas, who are enemies of The Luminaries. As a result, her dad is forced to leave, and Winnie, her brother and mother are shunned from the rest of the group, essentially living as exiles in their own community.
It was actually this aspect of the book I found the most interesting. Winnie wants to take the Hunter trials (anyone can do this) so that her family will be welcomed back into the fold, but when she does succeed, she is surprised by her own feelings at actually being welcomed back. She is angry that now they are being talked to and treated as equals when they were ignored or worse for four years, and the reasoning behind this doesn’t make sense to her. She is especially hurt that her two best friends dropped her from their lives as if their friendships meant nothing. This aspect was not dealt with in this book, but I’m hoping it will be in the next. I need people to be apologizing profusely to Winnie and her family for being huge dicks. Any community that practices shunning deserves to be examined in much greater detail.
The fantasy plot and what Dennard does it isn’t as interesting as it could have been, but I was very taken with the idea that these giant magical sleeping spirits come into being, and their dreams and nightmares are brought to life in these specific geographical areas. What a cool concept.
I will be reading the sequel, though, because literally as I was typing this I got an email notifying me I was approved for an audio ARC that I requested weeks ago. I hope it goes well!