When I started The Luminaries by Susan Dennard, I had no idea how this story idea began. In fact, I didn't know that it had been a Twitter phenomena until I read the Acknowledgements at the end of the book.
So, backstory: it's 2019, and Susan Dennard is grieving over a recent miscarriage and preparing for another round of IVF. She's looking for an outlet, some way to escape, if only briefly, the pain, when she has an idea: let Twitter write the plot of a story idea she'd had and hadn't sold yet. Every day for six months, Susan tweeted a poll and let readers vote on what happened next in the story.
Thousands of people voted every day on what would become the backbone of The Luminaries, which is the first in what I hope will be a several-books-long series.
It follows Winnie Wednesday, a teen from Hemlock Falls who is part of the Luminaries: a secret network of hunters around the world who protects humanity from ancient spirits--and the nightmares they unleash at night when they sleep. Well...Winnie and her family were part of the Luminaries until her branch of the society discovered that her father was a traitor, actively working against the rest of the clans. Her father was exiled and Winnie, her brother Darian, and their mother were allowed to stay in Hemlock Falls--but are shunned from any and all Luminary events and treated as pariahs. Winnie turns sixteen and is determined to right her family's status in the Luminaries and atone for her father's mistakes.
This book was a roller coaster of emotions! It gave me slight Twilight vibes--the dreary, cold, forest-y settings made me feel like I was back in Forks, but with the addition of clans of people, named after days of the week, constantly protecting the rest of the world from the nightmares within forests across the world. The world building was easy to follow, as was the explanation of clan hierarchy: each "day" clan was reminiscent of Hogwarts houses; this clan's main purpose is to research and compile data on new and existing nightmares, that clan is responsible for training hunters, etc. While a "big reveal" about one of the characters that I think is coming hasn't happened yet, I fear that if it does happen, it will be a tad predictable--as if the clues that were dropped throughout the book are too obvious. I'm hopeful, though, that those "obvious" clues are meant to distract, and that a twist is coming. And speaking of twists: there is a twist at the end that I definitely didn't see coming--and it made my jaw drop so far that my niece asked if I was okay. No, child. I am not okay, I need more!
I absolutely recommend that you read The Luminaries by Susan Dennard if you were a YA kid in the early 2000s (or if you weren't a YA kid in the early 2000s but enjoy early 2000s YA) because it definitely took me back to the books of that time: Twilight, the Hunger Games, you know the ones. It's not like today's YA/Fantasy books, and I mean that in the best way possible: this book is, somehow, nostalgic.
It's out November 1!
Love and Banshee Tears,