The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Read December 2018
Recommended for fans of survival stories
★     ★    ★    ★    1/2

Totally Unauthorized Review

It was very good, just the sort of read I wanted. Read it if you enjoy survival stories, or caving, or psychological mysteries where people are unreliable, conflicted, and determined.

I read for three reasons:

  1. A certain unnamed good friend strongly suggested it after reading it. Here’s how she sold it: “It takes stones of steel to write a full novel with only two characters and a cave for the setting. So far, it’s done very, very well.”
  2. I confused Caitlin Starling with Caitlin Kiernan, who also has a effed up book I want to read (The Drowning Girl).
  3. The darker, the better.

Like The Children of Time, it could have played on fundamental fears–in this case, claustrophobia–but somehow, through the writing, I was only riveted. Except for the water scenes. Those were scary.

Do not read the GR book blurb, as it does give far too much away, including one plot point that happens two-thirds of the way in. I read an early copy–hopefully very early–so I look forward to re-reading a print copy that might have even more polish. Just for me–for heaven’s sake, do not read the spoilers if you intend to read–

My most significant criticism would include a lack of world-building. Specifically, once in the caves, I didn’t get the sense of a different world any more. In fact, I didn’t even get the sense the Gyre knew much about cave geology period. Though the blurb compares to The Martian, I’d say that book did a far better job integrating world-building (biology, geology, physics, etc) than this did. I also feel like I was left slightly confused why the teams still had to be one person, as long as the person was enclosed in the suit. And the age–twenty-five teams seemed too many, unless we’re talking four attempts a year or something.

That said (major spoiler) the end result was a one-two gut punch. Absolutely wow.

“She hadn’t planned, because her goal hadn’t been in the future. It had always been behind her, pulling her back, pulling her down.”

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Book reviews, Science fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

  1. shortgirl says:

    This book sounds fascinatingly creepy! I’ll have to check it out!

  2. alicegristle says:

    Prob not my cup of tea, but gosh, what a lovely title!

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