Saturday, March 18, 2023

The Luminaries - Susan Dennard

I bought this book almost entirely because I loved it's sprayed edge decoration, and a little bit because it always seems like a good idea to sometimes step out of my normal reading choices into a genre I wouldn't normally bother with. In this case, I thought I was getting Sci-Fi/Fantasy but was actually getting young adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy. 

Either category come under the general heading of not my normal reading, and I see now that on  Waterstones and Amazon's websites, this is listed as both, but it was in the adult part of the shop where I bought it and I'm vaguely annoyed about it. 

It's an enjoyable book, a bit formulaic (a young girl whose family is outcast from their community has to overcome almost unbeatable odds to be the next super warrior kind of thing) but the main character is reasonably engaging and the logic behind the monsters she has to fight is believable. I will happily recommend it to teen readers looking for a decent fantasy to get stuck into. But what is it ever doing in the not teen section?

I've been unlucky on this front - almost every fantasy type of book I've read over the last decade from Naomi Novik's Uprooted, through to this has honestly been teen fiction however it's actually classified and I'm a little bit over it. With the single exception of Tricia Levenseller's The Shadows Between Us, they've been good, but they've all lacked the emotional maturity and complexity that I actually wanted. Holly Black's 'Book of Night' convincingly made the leap from young adult to adult writing, and I suppose my sample size is too small to be really meaningful, but honestly, we need to better define what these categories mean.

In the world of the luminaries, spirits live in 14 sites around the world, they create living nightmares with their dreams, and each spirit's nightmares evolve independently. America's spirit appeared around 1902 and is still exceptionally young. It's the job of the luminary clans to hunt down the nightmares and kill them before they can hurt the rest of us. There's a werewolf who we can all guess the identity of with no problem whatsoever, and an ex best friend who's got some big red flags going on too. The luminaries sworn enemies are the Diana's - witches, and our heroines father turned out to be one which left the whole family outcast. Winnie needs to survive a series of hunter trials to change that - but will the prize be worth winning?

It's all done fairly well, a second instalment drops in November, and if you're looking for a good series for a younger reader I'd absolutely have a look at it. If you wanted something undemanding that rattles along quickly enough it's okay too. 

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