Lumara / Melissa Landers / Book Review

Chronically-ill Talia swore off Mystics a year ago, when a conman stole her money in the guise of "healing" her with magic. She's made it her mission to expose them for what they are: frauds and tricksters, out to steal from those who are desperate. So it comes as a real shock for Talia to find out that her boyfriend Nathaniel is a Mystic himself. And not just a Mystic--the heir to a whole magic society on an island sequestered off the coast. And Nathaniel wants Talia to come home for fall break to meet his family and attend the biggest Mystic wedding of the season.

Against her better judgment, Talia agrees. But as soon as Talia and Nathaniel arrive on Lumara, things start to go awry. Beautiful, enchanting, utterly magical, Lumara might seem otherwordly, but when the entire wedding party collapses in the middle of the vows, fingers start pointing... right to outsider Talia. With an entire magic island turned against her, Talia will have to do what she can to prove her innocence, and with the wedding party on the verge of death, she doesn't have much time before her fate will be the same. 


I'm always down to dabble in some contemporary fantasy--fantasy mingled with a world much like our own. I liked the presence of magic-users in this world, very active and very much in the limelight, but outside of that, this book was... not good. 


  • Erasure: There is perhaps nothing more horrifying than losing a sense of yourself, a theme that Melissa Landers plays with early on in this book. Talia remembers things. She knows things about herself, but her friends and her family don't remember these same things. And when these are integral parts of your identity and your life, denial from those around you can make you feel like you're fading away... which is a great (if horrifying) set-up for this book. It sets an undercurrent of fear and unease. Can Talia be trusted? But who is she, if she doesn't remember herself? 
  • Magical Island: You know what I'll always enjoy? A magical island. The island of Lumara breathes alongside its residents. It responds to the needs of its wildlife, its inhabitants, its way of life. And this is utterly enchanting. I wish I could have gotten more entwined in this island--it really was one of the best parts of the book, prodding and prying at its residents until its will was done. This setting is great!
  • Contemporary Fantasy: Not a lot of authors dare to mingle smartphones with magic, and so this world was pleasantly refreshing. Sure, it's not quite the same as our own reality, but it feels very familiar. And that sense of the contemporary world melding with magic is very nice. 


  • Forgiving: Talia builds her whole identity in the first few chapters around hating Mystics and all they stand for. But when her boyfriend reveals himself to be a secret, undercover Mystic, she just... immediately forgives and forgets? And she agrees to go to his magic island home with him with only a few qualms? She might feel some trepidation about meeting his family, but this trepidation revolves around whether they'll like her, not the fact that they're Mystics, the very thing she swore to destroy just a chapter ago. 
  • Revelation Let-Down: A little less than halfway through this book, there is a major, earth-shattering revelation about one of the main characters... and then we just jump right back into the plot. Things change, sure, but nothing is really processed. There's no inner turmoil. There's no strife. And there really should be. This is the type of plot-twist that requires an incredible amount of backstory with it, and I didn't get that backstory at all. It left me drifting, detached from the characters and the story . It felt like something that would happen in a first draft, not in an editorial copy. 
  • Scattershot Plot: There are just too, too many plots going on here. There are so many pieces that could have worked so well together, but they didn't. There's a secret identity, a chronic illness, a spooky ghost, a magical island, a deadly tribunal, and more. And though these plots all do wrap up together, they're not well-woven. It would have been much, much better to settle on one and develop that as the main plot. Instead, these scattershot plots felt wild and random, disconnected, and when I was already feeling disconnected for other reasons, I had no reason to care about the book at all by the time I finished it. 



Fans of Susan Bishop Crispell's The Holloway Girls might be interested in this magic-and-mundane story. Those who enjoyed Danielle Paige and Kass Morgan's The Ravens will enjoy this book with its touch of campus magic. 


Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Date: December 6, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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