The Hunting Moon

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The Hunting Moon
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
13+
Release Date
November 07, 2023
ISBN
978-1250194145
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The Hunting Moon is the highly anticipated sequel to The Luminariesby New York Times bestselling author Susan Dennard.

Winnie Wednesday has gotten everything she thought she wanted. She passed the deadly hunter trials, her family has been welcomed back into the Luminaries, and overnight, she has become a local celebrity.

The Girl Who Jumped. The Girl Who Got Bitten.

Unfortunately, it all feels wrong. For one, nobody will believe her about the new nightmare called the Whisperer that's killing hunters each night. Everyone blames the werewolf, even though Winnie is certain the wolf is innocent.

On top of that, following her dad's convoluted clues about the Dianas, their magic, and what happened in Hemlock Falls four years ago is leaving her with more questions than answers.

Then to complicate it all, there is still only one person who can help her: Jay Friday, the boy with plenty of problems all his own.

As bodies and secrets pile up around town, Winnie finds herself questioning what it means to be a true Wednesday and a true Luminary―and also where her fierce-hearted loyalties might ultimately have to lie.

Editor reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
4.7(3)
Characters
 
4.3(3)
Writing Style
 
5.0(3)
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A(0)
The Luminaries Sequel
(Updated: December 26, 2023)
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
THE HUNTING MOON by Susan Dennard is a YA Paranormal Fantasy and sequel to THE LUMINARIES. This book picks right up where we left off: Winnie has completed her trials and been declared a hunter. Only now, navigating this new shift in attention and acceptance is not all she imagined it to be. While all eyes are on her, she inconveniently finds clues from her dad indicating what happened before isn’t what it seemed. If anyone discovers she has these messages, she could be an outcast again. Jay, however, is willing to help her find the truth, despite how complicated their relationship is getting too.

THE HUNTING MOON defies the sophomore slump! Partly it’s because it reads like the first novel in a series in that it offers first arc resolutions we probably should’ve seen at the end of THE LUMINARIES. The first book ends so abruptly and without many answers, I didn’t even realize it was The End. THE HUNTING MOON, on the other hand, leaves off on a great cliffhanger and gives readers enough to propel them into the next step in the story. Not only that, but it had me on the edge of my seat, and I seriously can’t wait for THE WHISPERING NIGHT, projected to release in October 2024. (**How am I going to wait that long?! I need to know what happens stat!**)

Because of how the plot points are set up, there is a level of waiting for Winnie to uncover what the audience already knows or assumes is going to be true, and since we could make those assumptions already during book one, it does slow the plot down a bit. That being said, it also makes sense why different moments unveil as they do, and Dennard is particularly skilled at adding meaning to each detail and moment. In other words, each scene is there by design, and rest assured, it will have a later purpose. I was thoroughly impressed by all the threads she weaved together.

What is most successful about this book is the atmosphere Dennard creates. In all the good ways, like tone, misty setting, the supernatural, and more, it reminds me of TWILIGHT. I like the setting of Hemlock Falls, how much Winnie is starting to question her life there, and how those thoughts could be useful in examining our real world. I also especially like the relationship between Jay and Winnie. While it's a painfully slow burn, it’s worth the wait, and I’m excited to see how they take on everything together in the third book.

Overall, THE HUNTING MOON captures the dark academia, picturesque town, and world of secrets, similar to the vibe of RIVERDALE’s pilot episode. Hemlock Falls will be a place you want to escape to again and again.

If like me you’re already having withdrawals, be sure to follow Dennard on her social platforms for her “Choose with Sooz” in which she invites her followers to vote on story elements!
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thrilling sequel
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
THE HUNTING MOON is a thrilling and consuming sequel to THE LUMINARIES that continues Winnie's story with exciting new revelations and surprising twists. Winnie is still reeling from everything that happened in the first story. Her fame feels unearned and unwanted, and she is uneasy around all the people who had shunned her family years before. With everyone discarding what she says about the Whisperer, Winnie is desperate to save them from this danger, while also working to uncover the clues her father had left for her.

Her uneasy relationships extend to the two she had previously been best friends with, Erica and Jay. Their communications now are completely complicated, but Jay may be the only person who can help her with her father's clues. As they work together, Winnie will also need to understand what happened all those years ago between them and the secrets being concealed.

What I loved: This was a really engaging sequel, and I found it even more compelling than the first. The story has really hit its stride here, and though this book is a middle book in the series, it felt anything but. The brunt of the background was given in the first, though this book also includes some information about the lore and nightmares, expanding upon what the reader already knows. This world is absolutely fascinating, and it remains just as compelling herein, as Winnie begins to see more complexity under the surface in terms of the nightmares and the things that she had been told and accepted as truths.

Winnie's eyes have really been opened, and she is reexamining all the truths she thought she knew as well as the capacity for dishonesty in those around her. Her character arc has really grown in terms of shedding naivete and examining her own role in the events of years ago with empathy for others around her. Winnie has learned that the world is not black-and-white, and she is really coming-of-age amidst these epiphanies. The people in charge and around her are not perfect, and the things that they have taught about the forest and the nightmares may not be as cut and dried as it once seemed. Winnie is asking questions, and she is eagerly seeking answers.

The story felt quite fast-paced with Winnie investigating what her father wanted her to know while also expanding her relationships with those around her, particularly Jay. Their relationship is burdened by hurt from the past, but, in this book, they begin to take steps toward empathy and forgiveness. Their relationship is really lovely and grows slowly without any simple resolutions, and it felt all the stronger for it.

Themes around loyalty, obedience, honesty, rejecting black-and-white views, morality, forgiveness, family, and friendship are all really thought-provoking and well done. There is much to consider in Winnie's story as she learns about her family, the society, and her friends. Her growth arc certainly drives many of these themes, while also feeling quite relatable to YA readers who likely have begun to question the adults around them and the truths they have always accepted.

While there is not a full resolution at the end of this book, it advances quite nicely with plenty of revelations and twists to satisfy the reader. While the clues were there, the reveals certainly surprised me, as I figured them out alongside Winnie. I loved feeling surprised like this, and I found it to be a really strong element of the story, as the reader maintains a similar level of understanding as Winnie, thus being surprised alongside her. This is definitely a series I am excited to follow! Of note, this book does not spare much time to recapping events in the previous book, so I would recommend reading a summary of the first if you do not read them close together in time.

Final verdict: A thrilling sequel, THE HUNTING MOON is a consuming YA fantasy with strong themes around coming-of-age, understanding the gray spaces, and navigating complex relationships. Highly recommend checking this series out!
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Either you trust the forest or you don’t?
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What I liked:
Diving back into the world of The Luminaries was like putting on my favorite pajamas. It was like I never left it. I picked up right next to Winnie Wednesday as she embraced being accepted back into The Luminaries and all the crazy stuff like corpse duties, nightmares in the forest, and puzzling clues left by her father. I liked that we learned much more about Diana in this second book. You also need to remember that as a constant in this series, You either trust the forest or don't.
Final Verdict:
With this second book, Winnie Wednesday has become one of the most unique fantasy characters I have read about. The secrets around her and this mysterious Whisperer that no one else can see or smell. What exactly does her dad want her to figure out with all these clues she finds? Also, what in the heck will happen with her and Jay now that we know what we know. Also, I think her Aunt knows a lot about what is happening, and I can not wait to unravel it all.
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