It'll come as no surprise that I was an early-2000s YA girlie. TwilightThe Hunger GamesDivergent...I couldn't get enough!

When I read The Luminaries by Susan Dennard last year, I was immediately overwhelmed by the nostalgia. It shot me right back into my late teens, when so many series took place in dreary, isolated settings and with heroines who were quirky, awkward, and didn't fit in. The best part was always when the girl started coming into her own; she realized her worth, or found her place and people, or even changed the freaking world. Gah!

The Hunting Moon continued to give me everything that I wanted from that nostalgic, early 2000s YA vibe that I loved in The Luminaries. I can't delve too deeply into the plot because it picks up right after a pretty major cliffhanger/spoiler at the end of The Luminaries, but Winnie is still an outcast...just now in a totally different way. She's the center of attention, sure, but no one actually believes anything that she says. She's just the cool girl who, well...[REDACTED], who might have gone a little crazy in the process. At least, that's how everyone seems to justify her ramblings about the new development in the forests around Hemlock Falls.

This second book was everything I've been hoping it would be for a year! I did not re-read The Luminaries before diving back into the world of Hemlock Falls, but even with a brain full of cobwebs after a year, Sooz did an excellent job of filling in the gaps and reminding you just how high stakes everything was before The Hunting Moon started. For the romance lovers: It's still a slow (slow slow slow sloooooow) burn (if you can call a thoroughly YA book a burn) but in the best ways, with the tension between Winnie and Jay Friday remaining a major and frustrating (we know we love it) all time high. There's enough mystery and intrigue to keep you invested in the goings-on in the forest, as well. At times I found myself frozen, hanging on every one of the narrator's words. The story went to places I absolutely didn't expect, and some of the reveals were shocking! In true YA form, there were also reveals that were predictable, which I think is important--you have to let your readers win at some point, and what better way than to give us those "aha!" moments where we get to figure *the situation* out before the characters do. My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that I felt like the book was still building up when it was, I was genuinely shocked to look up and see that I only had minutes left in the audiobook. But I feel like, even if that's an issue with pacing, it's the mark of a well written book that the reader doesn't realize how much time has passed while they've been reading.

The narrator was exceptional, and did such a great job of bringing Winnie to life.

Seriously, GO READ THIS SERIES. So far, both books have been worth the wait between them, and I can only see the story getting better from here.

You should absolutely preorder a copy of The Hunting Moon by Susan Dennard here or here before its release on November 7, and if you haven't read The Luminaries first, what is wrong with you?!) grab copies of it here or here so you can read it in time!

Love and Backlight (IYKYK),


Disclaimer: I received an advanced audiobook copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and have voluntarily written this review with my honest feedback. If you purchase a copy using my affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission and you'll support local indies! If you purchase a copy using my Amazon affiliate link above, I will receive a small commission which I will use to justify my literary addictions and to spoil my dogs (probably).