Discover more from The Worlds of Susan Dennard
Sneak Peeks Ahead!
Get a tiny snipper of Witchlight and a meatier chunk from The Hunting Moon!
If you haven’t yet noticed, I’ve made a few cosmetic changes to the LumiNerds hub! Since many of you are also Witchlanders who are also Misfits who are hopefully also people who want to read whatever future books I produce…
Well, I’ve mashed every fandom together into a DenNerds hub called WORLDS OF SUSAN DENNARD.
Moving forward, I’ll share updates about all books here—including cover reveals, first looks, sneak peeks, and beyond!
News & Updates
If you read my other newsletter, then you’ll already have seen I have EXCITING NEWS coming about The Executioners Three. It might involve publication. It might be coming out in the not too distant future…
And if you don’t know what TE3 is, then learn here! Just note, the version on Wattpad won’t be up much longer—and the published version will obviously have been edited (that mystery needs some work!) + HAVE AN ENDING! 🎉
Also, UK readers, don’t forget to get tickets for my tour with Olivia Blake coming up!
I know I mentioned on the DenNerds Discord years ago that Safi would refer to Aeduan as “Knifey.”
This is 100% true, and so I thought I’d share the little bit of the story in which we first see that happening…
The doors to the hunting lodge opened, and there stood the Truthwitch dressed haphazardly in a fur coat, boots, breeches, and a shirt that looked slept in—her short hair too was all mussed and matted.
She spotted Aeduan instantly, and it was clear from the way her chin lifted that he was the reason she had come out here. He met her halfway across the yard, where night sky beamed down and guards could observe them from the ramparts. He could guess why she was here; she confirmed it right away.
“Where is the prince, Knifey?”
Aeduan’s nose twitched. He hated that nickname almost as much as he hated Leopold. “I do not know.” He intentionally did not add Your Imperial Majesty.
Not that she seemed to notice. “Iseult remains susceptible to his words.” She sent a glare up toward her Threadsister’s room. “She doesn’t see the…truth of him.” At that word—truth—Safi gave an almost imperceptible shudder, and the scent of her magic heightened in her blood.
The Hunting Moon Sneak Peek
And don’t worry, LumiNerds: I haven’t forgotten you! Below, you can read Chapter 2 of The Hunting Moon.
Of course, don’t forget to read Chapter 1 here first!
And don’t forget to pre-order either, if you haven’t already!
Winnie waits until all the eulogies are over and Grayson’s ashes have sunk into the unfeeling deep. Only then does she go to Jay. He has moved away from the lake and tucked himself into the shadows of an old hemlock. If Winnie hadn’t watched him shuffle from the shore, she might never have noticed him hiding there.
He looks like he often does, eyes bloodshot and face haggard. If Winnie didn’t know he’d just been on the hunt, she would assume he’d been out all night drinking. His hair is still damp—as if he only just left the shower, where he scrubbed off all the remains of forest and death.
“Thanks for coming,” he tells her. His eyes are misty gray today, rimmed with red. She suspects he has been crying.
Questions boil inside Winnie: Please, tell me you saw the Whisperer. Please, tell me it wasn’t the werewolf and I’m not crazy. A werewolf didn’t do this. Please, tell me it was the Whisperer.
Winnie swallows those words, greasy and hot. She can’t acknowledge them right now, not when Jay is simply trying to survive a day that weighs too heavy.
“I’m . . . really sorry,” Winnie says instead. “If you need anything, you, uh . . . you know where to find me.”
Jay nods, distracted, and fidgets with his dad’s watch. His gaze skates behind Winnie, to where a line is forming. Hunters and clan members wanting to offer their sympathies . . . but also to offer their congratulations. After all, when one Lead Hunter leaves, another must step in.
Jay’s shoulders sink half an inch. The boy who does nothing but shirk responsibility is now faced with a metric ton of it. He has to manage clan training; he has to coordinate schedules and gear and safety; he has to guide hunters into the forest every Friday night, knowing they could end up like Grayson.
And that he could end up like Grayson too.
“Jay,” says a new voice, creaking and thin. Winnie turns to find Jay’s great-aunt Linda pushing in and reaching for Jay’s hands. So Winnie offers him a tight smile and moves on.
A quick scan reveals Mom in conversation with an Alpha named Isaac Tuesday who graduated when Darian did. Mom’s eyes shine. She’s glad to be here, even if it’s for a funeral, because she believes in the long sleep and the balance and the death that’s a part of life.
And don’t I believe in that too?
Winnie twists around to find that Aunt Rachel has pushed through the crowd to stand beside her. She is dressed almost identically to Mom, and Winnie can’t help but wonder if maybe they bought their outfits at the same time—back when they not only had hunted together, but had been best friends.
“Hi.” Winnie tries for a smile. It falls flat.
“Did you know Grayson?” Rachel cocks her head toward the lake, as if the ashes somehow still contain bits of him.
“No,” Winnie admits. “I just . . . thought I should support Jay.” And what a great job I’ve done at that. “I guess you knew Grayson?”
“Yeah. Lead Hunters—we consult pretty regularly.” Rachel sighs and stuffs her hands into her coat pockets. “He was good. Really good. It’s, uh . . . scary how fast things can turn on you.” As she says this, Winnie can practically see the nightmares in Rachel’s eyes. All the times when she—like Winnie—really should not have made it out of the forest alive.
After a few seconds, though, Rachel rolls her shoulders, curt efficiency taking hold of her posture. As if her very skeleton is saying, There is no time for the shadows; compartmentalize and move back toward the sun.
“Listen,” Rachel begins, “it’s totally fine if you don’t want to join the Wednesday hunt right now—”
The way she says this does not make it sound totally fine.
“—but the clans need help with corpse duty. We’ve got a lot more dead nightmares to deal with these days, given the amped-up hunter numbers each night. Think you can join on Thursday morning? You don’t have to be in charge again, but we could really use the help.”
Winnie has two thoughts in that moment. First, that she absolutely doesn’t want to spend any more time than she has to with Rachel’s son, Marcus, who will undoubtedly be there for corpse duty on Thursday morning.
Then second, that she isn’t sure she wants to return to the forest if it’s going to keep making her feel this way. It won’t, though. You’re just being weird and this is just a one-off.
Except . . . was the waterfall always so loud?
Rachel clears her throat. Winnie realizes she has been staring into space. Possibly glaring into space too. She blinks. “Yeah. I can do that, Aunt Rachel.”
“Great.” Rachel rubs her hands together. “I appreciate that. And of course, whenever you’re ready to join me on the hunt, you just let me know. No pressure.”
But also definitely some pressure.
As Rachel strides away, Winnie is struck yet again by the utter polarity of it all. Rachel just nudged her niece to join in the exact activity that led to Grayson’s brutal death . . . at Grayson’s funeral. And right now, although Winnie is a whole thirty paces away from Jay, she can hear an unfamiliar voice booming out: “Congratulations, young man. Youngest Lead Hunter in Hemlock Falls. You must be so proud.”
No, Winnie thinks as she stomps away from it all to seek solitude in the parking lot. He’s not proud. And jumping wasn’t fun. And Grayson isn’t sleeping. And the Nightmare Masquerade should not be happening in two weeks.
Yet even as those thoughts slice through Winnie’s brain one after the other, bright, burning meteorites, she knows that the better thoughts—the better questions she really should be raising—are: What is wrong with me? Why can’t I compartmentalize like everybody else?
And why aren’t I acting like a Luminary?
Winnie isn’t at the Volvo for long before Mom joins her. One look at Winnie’s face with her front teeth clicking and her cheeks flushed from too many emotions, and Mom opts to preserve her silence.
Thank god. Winnie doesn’t know what she’ll say if she has to speak right now. She feels as if a piece of Grayson Friday got stuck inside her. Like his ashes were grenade shrapnel and now they’re wedged in so deep, she’ll never dig them out again.
Or maybe it’s just the growing realization that she isn’t very good at being a Luminary.
Or maybe she’s just hungry and she shouldn’t have skipped breakfast.
“You’re driving,” Mom says, pushing the keys into Winnie’s hand, and though the last thing Winnie wants to do right now is concentrate on getting the Volvo into second gear without stalling halfway up the hill onto the dam, she also needs the distraction.
And to her surprise, it’s actually sort of soothing. In goes the clutch. Change gears. Out goes the clutch. There’s a rhythm to it that slows her heart. In. Change. Out.
Fallen branches litter the side of the gravel road that leads south out of the forest. Then they’re passing the Tuesday estate, all bare-bones practicality—more bunker than fancy mansion.
“You want to talk?” Mom asks when they successfully make it past the Monday estate without any gear-shift problems, a morning fog weaving through the college campus–like grounds.
“Yeah,” Winnie answers eventually. “Everything’s okay. It was just . . . a lot.” She hopes Mom interprets this as the funeral in general; she really doesn’t want to talk about Jay’s misty eyes or the way the waterfall sounded too much like death.
Fortunately, Mom does misinterpret. “I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m relieved you’re not hunting yet, Winnebago. If your trial had gone just a little bit differently . . .”
Mom doesn’t finish the thought, and she doesn’t need to.
“Until this werewolf is killed,” Mom continues, “I’ll be grateful you’re not in the forest. You’re still not planning to hunt any time soon, right?” She fastens Winnie with a laser-eyed stare, and Winnie’s fingers tighten on the steering wheel until her knuckles turn white.
Because there it is, right there. One more piece of festering shrapnel: not even her own mother believes her about the Whisperer, and it’s thoughtless little comments like this one that keep giving her away.
God, I hope they catch this werewolf, she said last night after Dryden’s interview on the news.
To think, it’s just out there walking among us. That comment came last Thursday.
And: I am so, so glad the werewolf didn’t get you, Winnie. That was from last Sunday, Winnie’s third day home from the hospital.
Winnie doesn’t turn her head. She doesn’t meet Mom’s eyes. “No,” she says with as little infection as possible. “I don’t plan to hunt any time soon.”
Winnie and Mom clear the last of the trees. To their left, the Little Lake is almost blue this morning. It is the opposite of the Big Lake. Cheerful instead of oppressive, welcoming instead of cruel. Winnie can’t help but wonder if Grayson Friday really did drive into the water there. If so, does that mean a Hummer is still sitting at the bottom of the lake right now?
Winnie kind of hopes it is. For some reason, that just feels right: a statue no one can see for a man no one will ever speak to again.
Thank you for reading, LumiNerds, Witchlanders, Misfits…and beyond! (Phew, that’s a mouthful. I’m just going to say DenNerds moving forward, lol.)
I hope you enjoyed the snipper and sneak peek, and I’ll see you all again soon with more updates and extras!
🌙 - Sooz