From Susan Dennard, the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchlands series, comes a haunting and high-octane contemporary fantasy, about the magic it takes to face your fears in a nightmare-filled forest, and the mettle required to face the secrets hiding in the dark corners of your own family.
Hemlock Falls isn’t like other towns. You won’t find it on a map, your phone won’t work here, and the forest outside town might just kill you.
Winnie Wednesday wants nothing more than to join the Luminaries, the ancient order that protects Winnie’s town—and the rest of humanity—from the monsters and nightmares that rise in the forest of Hemlock Falls every night.
Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal—and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying.
But in order to survive, Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. While Jay might be the most promising new hunter in Hemlock Falls, he also seems to know more about the nightmares of the forest than he should. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for.
Not all monsters can be slain, and not all nightmares are confined to the dark.
The Luminaries sets a new secret society within our world that guards humankind from nightmarish creatures lurking in the forests at night. Beautiful worldbuilding and mystery subplots keep the momentum going that I couldn’t put this book down at all. The ending was abrupt and most things were not concluded in a satisfactory manner, but this definitely makes me all the more excited for what’s to come in the next book.
Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.
When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.
For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.
Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.
Romance is most certainly dead… but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.
A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.
The Dead Romantics showcases a different side to Ashley Poston’s writing and I’m totally here for it! I loved her YA sci-fi books but this paranormal, contemporary romance was something I didn’t even know I needed from her.
First off, the prose is everything. There were so many quotable paragraphs I found myself highlighting more than I usually would. There’s just something so flowery and magical in the writing. Words fit together so smoothly and transition like water gently flowing over stones in a shallow creek. I’m not normally this poetic or sappy about how words are strung together, but it definitely set the mood for a small town in South Carolina our protagonist, Florence, finds herself going back to for the first time in a decade.
It’s not just how the words fit together but also the way Poston was able to make Florence’s voice so distinctive and personal. She’s emotional and stubborn, loving but also hardened by life’s betrayals. I saw myself in Florence’s struggles to love herself and find worth looking inwards instead of to those around her. Reading her narration reminded me of the voiceovers in the early 2000s shows that brought both witty and sarcastic commentary to the story. I absolutely loved it.
Though the writing was oddly refreshing and wholly different than I anticipated, it’s also the story itself that made everything such a wild ride. I don’t cry very often when I read books and I wasn’t expecting to in this one, but boy, did the waterworks just start going at certain points. This book is also one about grief, though the author doesn’t drown us in it so much as reminds us it’s there as Florence faces the burial preparations for her dear father. The balance of funny moments with the reality of death and grief was one I thoroughly enjoyed. It doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the topic, but it allows for different processing and I think that’s what worked for me. Florence mourned her father’s passing and the time she lost spending it with him in person, but their love and memories still remained.
Florence’s self-inflicted isolation from her family all comes to a head when she’s forced back home to face the demons she ran away from. Her family, the town, and her backstory that led to her run to NYC was fleshed out very well. I will admit that the first half of the book moved quite slowly, setting up the foundation for the latter half. I almost wanted to give up but I’m so glad I stuck it out. So this is why I can’t give it top rating but the latter half more than made up for the slow pace.
But the waterworks didn’t only come from dealing with grief. The majority of this story is also one of romance. From the opening proclamation that Florence believed love was dead, a ghostwriter for romance novels, I knew this would get interesting. When her hot(!) but suddenly dead editor who wouldn’t give her an extension on her book pops up in town, you know this isn’t your ordinary meet cute kinda story. I grew up reading the Mediator series by Meg Cabot so I immediately knew this hot ghost love interest would make me happy and sad simultaneously. And wow, was I sure right.
Can I just interrupt this to say I love how meta this romance book felt? Ashley just name dropped all these big names in the publishing community, authors and books we hopefully should all know of, and I felt like only someone in the time period I grew up in with the kind of books I read could truly appreciate how cool it is to feel Florence’s reading and writing inspirations were mine too.
Back to Mr. Hot Editor, Benji Andor. He’s the perfect cinnamon roll, helping Florence through the roughest week of her life when she should be the one trying to help him move on. The chemistry was so on point, and the tension was agonizing because, well, he’s a ghost and they can’t actually touch.
Mostly, I’m a huge fan of character development. And Florence had her issues at the beginning. While the course of everything at home and with her dad’s death obviously changed her, it’s ultimately her shift in perceiving love that’s the winner for this book. We always think of love as romantic love first, but we gotta remember, love also exists in multiple forms beyond the one.
The Dead Romantics will leave you feeling mushy inside, trust me. Or at least, if you have some kind of a heart. It’s the perfect blend of paranormal romance with the contemporary struggles we can all relate to. This is probably Ashley’s best book yet and that’s saying something as I’ve really enjoyed most of her writing so far. Please do yourself a favor and pick this one up ASAP.
The Dead Romantics blends wit and humor into a powerful story about grief and love. While that may sound like many books out there, what’s unique about this one is the ghostly boyfriend vibes a la Mediator style and the way the author lets us process Florence’s emotions and grief over her dad in a way that’s not suffocating. I LOVED the gorgeous prose that made the atmosphere of the small town and vivid emotions come alive off the pages. It’s truly a book to experience though the first half may test your patience as it sets up for the climax. With plenty of tears running down my face, I can honestly say this book in it’s entirely is sure to tug at your heartstrings and make you believe in love again too.
Georgiana Darcy gets the Pride & Prejudice retelling she deserves in Accomplished, a sparkling contemporary YA featuring a healthy dose of marching band romance, endless banter, and Charles Bingley as a ripped frat boy.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Georgiana Darcy should have been expelled after The Incident with Wickham Foster last year – at least if you ask any of her Pemberley Academy classmates. She may have escaped expulsion because of her family name, but she didn’t escape the disappointment of her big brother Fitz, the scorn of the entire school, or, it turns out, Wickham’s influence.
But she’s back for her junior year, and she needs to prove to everyone—Fitz, Wickham, her former friends, and maybe even herself—that she’s more than just an embarrassment to the family name. How hard can it be to become the Perfect Darcy? All she has to do is:
– Rebuild her reputation with the marching band (even if it kills her) – Forget about Wickham and his lies (no matter how tempting they still are), and – Distract Fitz Darcy—helicopter-sibling extraordinaire—by getting him to fall in love with his classmate, Lizzie Bennet (this one might be difficult…)
Sure, it’s a complicated plan, but so is being a Darcy. With the help of her fellow bandmate, Avery, matchmaking ideas lifted straight from her favorite fanfics, and a whole lot of pancakes, Georgie is going to see every one of her plans through. But when the weight of being the Perfect Darcy comes crashing down, Georgie will have to find her own way before she loses everything permanently—including the one guy who sees her for who she really is.
***Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel comes out July 26, 2022**
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Are you a fan of Pride & Prejudice? Have you read all the retellings that you can possibly get your hands on? Well, this may not be focused on Lizzie Bennet but you can bet Accomplished still has plenty of heart, romance, and family issues to deal with.
Georgie Darcy is the younger sister of Fitz Darcy, the sole Darcys left in their family now that their father has passed and their mother ditched them (whoops, motherly instincts were never her strong suit). But that’s okay because Fitz is all the family Georgie needed, or so she thought before everything came crashing down.
This retelling focused on the younger Darcy sibling surprised me in more ways than I anticipated. I barely remember her in the original story so I suppose that helped with minimal expectations. Georgie was by far a perfect protagonist. At the start of the book, we already knew she had a very tumultuous previous year with Wickham, an unfortunate family friend who took advantage of her while Fitz was away at college. Yet she was also someone I highly empathized with. Bullied and isolated by her classmates for things that she didn’t necessarily do or deserve (why do teenagers insist on liking the drug dealer over the patsy he controlled?), Georgie displayed more strength than even I would have as she devised a plan to gain the respect of her peers and her brother once again. Honestly, if I were in her shoes, I’d probably want to hold up in my room and just cry.
I liked how her character grew through the ordeal. She struggled and tried in the only way she knew how to – by sometimes throwing around her Darcy money to help make grand gestures to show she cared about those around her. Yes, perhaps she may have needed to learn to read the room, but it all came from a place of genuine want to fit in and to do good for the people around her. I was also happy to see a little conversation with Fitz at one point discussing their privilege. While being rich (or SUPER rich in their case) did NOT negate the bad things that happened to them as they’re still very valid hardships they suffered, it did provide a large cushion that did in a number of ways make things easier for them than a lot of others in the same situation.
Of course, the romance was a large feature in the book and I’m not just talking about Fitz and a certain Lizzie Bennet who aggravated him unlike anyone else did (aside from Georgie). I’ll get back to them. No, I’m talking about Georgie’s band classmate, Avery. When no one else gave her the time of day or even a nod of acknowledgment in the hallways (like, come on, how hard is it to even just acknowledge someone’s presence?), Avery did.
After everything with Wickham which could only be described as emotional manipulation where Georgie struggled to feel like she could be on her own without him, Avery was a breath of fresh air and exactly what she needed after she healed. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about Wickham because it was a little sickening the way he practically groomed her and isolated her from everything except to say it’s a large part of her story. It’s not heavily focused what he did exactly but the aftermath is definitely present. Thankfully, Avery is the complete opposite and their friendship-turned-romance was everything I was here for. He grounded her but also liked who she was. She wasn’t just her name, her money or the legacy being a Darcy brought, which frankly mostly associated with negative things.
For P&P fans, no worries, we do get to see Lizzie and Fitz in more than a cameo appearance. I liked the reimagination of these two iconic characters in a modern setting, not to mention Charlie Bingley as a frat boy. It felt realistic to the core characters Austen brought to life while fitting seamlessly into Georgie’s story here. One reprieve from the more emotional aspects of Georgie’s life is her scheme to matchmake them to get Fitz off of her back and simultaneously do one good thing for him to make him happy after all the stress she gave him. Her plans and set ups were surely fanfic level ideas, something Georgie is also super into, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing whether they would actually bring these two stubborn people together successfully.
Whether you’re a fan of Pride & Prejudice or not, Georgie Darcy’s story stands out on its own. With such an empathetic character even with her flaws and her failures, maybe because of them, she shines bright as we follow her attempts to accomplish all that a Darcy should be and find herself in the process. Is she only a Darcy or can she be more as simply Georgie? This isn’t a story that sees happily ever after dependent on some boy righting her world but rather about a young woman learning she can be happy for herself with the help of those she loves. If that’s something you’d cheer for, then this is the book for you, my friend.
Accomplished delivers an emotional coming-of-age story about Georgie Darcy, the younger Darcy sibling, while featuring familiar names from Pride & Prejudice. After disappointing her brother, all her peers and herself when she got entangled with the toxic Wickham, Georgie tackles a grand plan to win back everyone’s respect and approval by being the best Darcy she could be with the help of her only friend, Avery. Their friendship and romance was a highlight, but what really tugged my heartstrings is Georgie herself as she navigated her struggles and failures. I laughed and cried with her as she learned more of who she wanted to be, not only who everyone expected her to be. This is a retelling you don’t want to miss.