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Young Adult Fiction 1386
thrilling sequel
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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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