It has taken me a while to write this book review, but not for a lack of trying!
I have been a huge fan of Susan Dennard for a long while and after reading this book I just wanted to tell everyone about it! I was so obsessed that I started to look up what other people were saying – just to find more readers to gush about it with – and found that the story came when Susan was in a bit of a dark head space dealing with a lot of personal issues. This alone made me love of her more, as if it was possible, and I started to relate a lot more since writing had always done something similar for me.
The story itself was so interesting. I learned it was unique because it started off as a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ on Twitter where readers were voting on what happens next! Insanely cool and a creative way to tell a story! It eventually found it’s way into book form.
Not to mention the cover… I mean, gorgeous and intriguing and just calling you to dive in!
Note: This is a non-spoilery review.
I think the plot for this book is one of my favourites of 2022 (when the book was released and I read it in basically one sitting).
It follows our main character Winnie Wednesday whose family is shunned when her father is exposed for being a traitor. This leads to her being neglected and isolated by the core families in her town that make up the ancient order, The Luminaires, created to protect the town from the forest.
When her sixteenth birthday finally comes around, and a chance for her to join the order, she is desperate and ready that she even accepts the help of Jay Friday, an old friend who she lost touch with because of the shunning.
The way the story curved and flowed was magnificent. It kept me on my toes, rooting for Winnie but also deeply yearning to understand Jay, the town, the forest, and the past.
It was mystery wrapped in suspense and romance with the perfect dash of supernatural. And I LOVED this idea of the families being named after the days of the week!
I definitely felt like there was enough to keep me reading, wondering what the hell everyone is hiding and why?!
I loved her tenacity. I felt she was driven in the best way, complicated, and flawed. She was portrayed exactly as her situation entailed. A girl with a chance to change her life and she ran with it! I liked how real she was, not whiny or annoying or even going beyond her skill set. Everything she was or did was true to her character. It was so refreshing to see her morals tested when threatening what she wanted and she actually chose the unexpected… very cryptic as I don’t want to spoil anything, but all you need to know is pick up this book if not for anything then for this wonderful take on a female main character!
I mean, I love me a broody male lead with a past and a secret. I think that’s enough said right there. The friends-to-enemies-to-somewhat friends again thing he has going on with Winnie has me reeling and needing the second book to make sure these two get together!!
Now, the Forest was not an official character but I felt like it was. While other supporting characters were great – the Forest I felt had its own heartbeat somehow and I found myself wondering not only what secrets it held but how it reacted to the different Luminaires that entered it. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book!
Firstly, I loved the diversity in this. I think Susan was intentional about adding various characters from different backgrounds and I loved that! I would say that I wish Susan had possibly added more detail to Fatima’s life and perhaps a more accurate description of a hijabi girl (speaking as one myself) regarding the family dynamic and Islamic virtues.
In regards to the character of Fatima herself, I felt she was great at bringing another side to Winnie but at times, I felt she was not as trustworthy as I thought. She definitely has different sides of her, and it is realistic of a friend to someone who was shunned and possibly trying to regain their spot back within the ‘it’ crowd.
I thought Hemlock Falls was so well written and beautifully described. I felt like I was actually there, especially the description of the Forest and the creatures that came from it.
I definitely wish we saw more but the set up for future books is there and I am sure we will see more of it.
I had such high hopes when I bought this book, and as always Susan delivered.
From the plot, to the supernatural circa 2010 vibes, to the characters, I had such a fun time reading this!
If you love mystical stories with a suspenseful past, strong characters, and a world that is like our own but so much better, this is the book for you!
📜 Plot: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
🧙🏼♂️ Characters: ⭐⭐⭐
❤️ Romance: ⭐⭐⭐
🧕 Diversity: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Please let me know if you have read this book! What were your thoughts?!
*Please note that when clicking any links above, they are affiliate links, which means I receive a percentage of the revenue made from purchasing products through the links. This does not affect you as the consumer of the price of the product. More importantly it does not compel me to recommend products that I do not believe in.*