The Hunting Moon by Susan Dennard
Nothing is perfect, and as such, the reviews in this blog are chaotic. My main aim is to share my thoughts, joy and opinions on a book, not make a publication perfect review. This blog endorses authenticity, showing up and joy over perfection.
I love all the Narwhal and Jelly books, which I have reviewed most of them but if I missed posting a review at least I have definitely read them. I discovered them in London on a trip with a friend, fell in love with the first two books, and have been preordering the rest ever since.
This actually came out just before Halloween, so I ended up reading it the week of Halloween, which was a perfect fit.
In this one, Jelly is a bit scared and not sure about getting dressed up for Halloween or even about anything scary, whereas as usual, Narwhal is all excited for it and ready to be all the things, ideas just keep coming about what to dress up as, so a party is decided to happen much to Jelly’s scaredy-cat spirits and reluctance.
However, there appears to be a true spirit/monster/ghost suddenly lurking in the ocean, and it seems to have gotten Narwhal (or be stalking Narwhal, who knows?) so Jelly decides to be brave and try to gather friends to save Narhwal because that’s what best friends do!
Adorable as usual, the artwork is fun and fitting, I loved the cute little story and the tiny extras that split it, and well, what else can I say? Grab a copy of this or any other of the Narwhal and Jelly books for a lovely dose of joy!
Disclaimer: Receiving a review copy from the publisher does not affect my opinion of the book. If you think I review it highly it is due to me knowing my taste well and therefore not requesting books I won’t enjoy. And I am not obligated to review the book if I do not like it, so you may not see bad reviews due to me preferring not to hype down a particular book. I only do reviews of books I disagreed with if I think it is worth bringing a topic or warning to light.
The Luminaries left me wishing for me, as you can read from my previous review of it. Since I followed the Twitter polls that started this and that were quite fun, it was natural to keep wanting more.
The slightly disjointed feeling of comparing that thread on Twitter (now X) is less evident here, mostly because by now in The Hunting Moon, it has evolved into much more of Susan Dennard’s own story rather than a choose-your-own-adventure type of thing. So in some ways, this book is more fun, and feels like the plot is unique and just smoother and to me those are winning points.
We also have Winnie questioning so much, and I found it interesting to see those doubts show up and the fight to trust and to do your best. There is so much going on, and so many ways to try to find out things, but the main things are we have the Dianas to look into (and that’s a whole thing, which damn I thought we’d get *redacted* happen in the end and we didn’t and now I await the next book) but we also have Winnie’s feelings about what being part of the Lumaries really is and if she is up for it, she sees the cracks all of a sudden that she didn’t when she was so focused on redeeming her family back in. It’s almost like “I got my goal, now what?” followed by a “Maybe this isn’t actually what I wanted but I also don’t want to be a pariah”. Small town vibes for sure.
And finally, the other part of the book that we have is Jay, who is still a whole mystery and Winnie has so many complex feelings on this alongside so much to try to discover and learn.
Overall, it is a slow pick-up to a fast-paced second half of the book where things just click. However, the werewolf mystery I knew the answer to it from the very first book. Seeing Winnie finally put the pieces together was both frustrating (like come on girl, you’ve got this) and also rewarding because she does put it together and manages to make big decisions in her own time.
If you enjoyed the first book, this is well worth the read. And if you didn’t read the first but like stories with a small town vibe, urban fantasy notes, werewolves, a bit of romance, intrigue, treason and framing, alongside some family interesting drama, that is easy to read and you’ll just won’t want to put it down, then definitely pick both books up and then join me in waiting for the next one because there’s so much* to find out still.
*One thing I did like is that there is progress here on discovering mysteries like the Whisperer, and part of the Dianas and the werewolves, so you feel progress and we discover new mysteries, rather than just feel cheated by a second book without resolving most of the threads left hanging from the first, which is also a HUGE win for me in ay sequel/series.