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The Luminous Dead

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  125 reviews
A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Harper Voyager
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  291 ratings  ·  125 reviews

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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:

--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."
--I confused Caitlin Starling w
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Well... Half the time Gyre is mad at Em, or blaming Em, or wondering at how she doesn't feel like blaming Em. What's with all the blame?

Em... Her being blamed during half the book for a number of disastrous expeditions, makes little sense. Yes, she has some (un)specific goals but don't all mining companies in the book? How come that looking for Em's goals is any worse that plain old ore mining? Felt like the author needed some psychological suspense vehicle and this is what got used as such. Wel
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror-dark, sci-fi
The Luminous Dead, a science fiction/horror book, was a solid 4 stars.
The book centers around main character Gyre, a caver, who is desperate to earn money to find her missing mother. Gyre is hired by a private mining company to map mineral deposits in a cave off planet and thus the story begins.
The Luminous Dead is a very creepy read, especially as Gyre starts her solo expedition exploring the cave. Gyre only has one line of communication and that’s through Em, her monitor. Em is a woman who h
Nick T. Borrelli
I want to begin this review by pointing out the fact that I'm a sucker for books with this kind of theme. The plot of THE LUMINOUS DEAD is one that takes place on a planet rich in mineral deposits and a "caver" is exploring one such location while also possibly being stalked deep within the bowels of said cave. Anything that involves some sort of exploration on a distant planet or an archaeological angle and I'm usually all in. So when I had the opportunity to receive an advance reader copy of t ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
like if the martian and annihilation got freaky in a cave with queer women!!!
Mogsy (MMOGC)
2.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling is a story about two women who have more in common than either of them would like to admit, but by the time they realize how much they mean to each other, it might already be too late. Gyre was only a little girl when her mother abandoned her, leaving only a vague note with an invitation to her daughter to come find her when she is ready. Now twenty-two years old, our protagonist has
The blurb compares The Luminous Dead to The Martian, Gravity, and Annihilation. The first two are fine, if the only criteria is "lone person in space-ish survival situation", which is to say not that similar at all. Annihilation is closer for the overall feel of unease, and lack of trust even the protagonist can place in their own perception. But really, The Luminous Dead is something that doesn't entirely fit the mold of what came before - it's something entirely original, and even a bit daring ...more
Chris Berko
A solid four star read for me, if somewhat repetitive, until the end which was sort of a disappointment, so I have to give it a three. I haven't read the Martian so can't speak knowledgeably about that comparison and the only way it reminded me of Annihilation was the underwhelming conclusion. The author does do a lot with only two characters, one only being a voice and a face on a screen, and there were truly frightening and claustrophobic moments it just didn't all come together for me like I ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very close to a 4 star read for me.

This is a great pick if you like survival stories with the edge of a pschological thriller. It's well written and easy to follow even if you know nothing at all about climbing and cave diving (me, I know only a little).

Coincidentally, I recently read an interesting story in National Geographic about the role of cave divers in the rescue of a boys soccer team from Thailand, who were trapped in a cave for days. It is a different story than the book (obviously) bu
The Bookavid
I'll be honest. I have a hard time with books that have very limited settings and work a lot with internal monologue to establish setting and mood rather than action. THE LUMINOUS DEAD is pretty much the prose version of a chamber play. In space. With aliens. And corpses. And gay girls.

Even though this is really not the kind of book I usually go for, there's just something about THE LUMINOUS DEAD that made me long to keep going, to keep following cave explorer Gyre on her mysterious quest throug
Jen (Book Den)
I absolutely loved The Luminous Dead. It's so rare for me to pick up a book, be immediately hooked, and stay that way through the entirety of the novel. The Luminous Dead is 432 pages, and I would have had no problem reading it in one sitting if life wasn't in the way. Even with life I was able to knock it out in 2 days. I did not want to put it down.

The Luminous Dead is Caitlin Starling's debut novel. Caitlin Starling is now on my autobuy list. The Luminous Dead only had two characters and one
Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

CW: parental death, death, parental abandonment, claustrophobia and some violence

I legit ended this book thinking that

Like I said a while ago, sci-fi isn’t always a genre I gravitate towards. I typically enjoy it, but I don’t automatically reach for it and want to read it all the time. But, I saw this on Edelweiss and immediately realized that I would love it.

Not only is it sci-fi, but it has heavy threads of horror running through it. Horror to the point
Kameron Hurley
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My blurb: "A masterful, nail-biting thriller from an extraordinary talent. Meticulously researched, expertly paced, with yearning, self-destructive heroines whose incredible physical and emotional journies will leave you breathless."

This book was exactly what I hoped it would be!
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
TW: Claustrophobia, paranoia

Gyre Price needs cash. She needs to get off-world. And the best way to do this is by cave-diving—and she's found the perfect expedition. Great equipment. Decent contract. High pay-out. So what if she fudged her experience a little? She knows how to climb. She's strong.

But her support team ends up being a team of one. And that one is Em. Em, who drugs her. Who lies to her. Who manipulates her.

And there's something else.

There's something in the caves with her.
What did
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, horror
Possible review to come, depending on if I think it's worth it—but I wasn't a fan.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Luminous Dead is a sci-fi horror novel, which is not usually something I'm drawn to. The synopsis of this one was so damn captivating that I had to give it a chance, and I'm so glad that I did! I loved this book, and tore through it since I had to know what was going on.

I have not read anything from Caitlin Starling before, but I'm definitely a fan now. It is truly impressive to write a book set in a closed environment with two characters and be able to hold my attention the entire way throu
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Warning! Do not attempt to read this book if you are claustrophobic. Do not attempt to read it if your skin crawls in terror from being trapped in small places. Both in its setting and thematically, the Luminous Dead is a narrowly-focused tightly-drawn Story. From Jules Verne to Burroughs to numerous modern writers, there has been an endless fascination with tunneling into the center of the earth, a focus on what lies within the labyrinth of underground spaces. Luminous Dead, with its beautiful ...more
Emily A. Duncan
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m never going into a cave EVER IN MY LIFE.
Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)
When I was reading this, I was seriously thinking that it feels like a (100% queerer) version of Annhilation crossed with something like Sandra Bullock’s Gravity… and then I saw that was the official comp! So I apparently wasn’t alone in thinking that.

I’d heard a lot of positive buzz about The Luminous Dead, and boy the story did not disappoint.

On a hardscrabble planet, the only path to getting out is risking your life exploring the cave systems and the valuable minerals they hold. And Gyre Pric
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Words flashed up on her cracked screen.


Gyre choked down the faint, nascent sound that threatened to leak from her throat.

The words on her screen disappeared, and were replaced with:


I won this book via GoodReads' First Reads and I really had no idea what it was about; but I loved the title and the cover so dove right in. What I landed in was a creepy, claustrophobic thriller pitting/partnering two damaged people in a place determined to
Unabridged Bibliophile
Feb 19, 2019 is currently reading it
ARC provided by Harper Collins for review.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A mixed bag of both thrilling tension and a slow, ponderous beginning, The Luminous Dead worked on some levels but failed on others.

This is a hard review to write. On one hand there are things about The Luminous Dead that I loved, elements that the author did really well. But on the other hand, there are a lot of problems wit
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Luminous Dead is an atmospheric novel that follows two women as they dive deep into the earth and even deeper into their own psyches.

I love these types of novels, exploring unexplored lands/planets. So, I requested this one immediately after reading its synopsis. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy The Luminous Dead as much as I wanted. The comparison to The Martian and Annihilation are apt, though The Luminous Dead is missing that spark and it factor that make those novels memorable.

The atmosph
Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
**This ARC was provided by Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review**

You can read this review and others on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks!

Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Key Descriptors: horror, scifi, cave exploration, psychological, unreliable narrator, LGBTQ+

Premise: Motivated by a desire to follow after the mother who abandoned her, Gyre Price lies about her experience in order to land a lucrative cave-diving gig. Gyre anticipates a topside team tha
Oct 03, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
book twitter says "this is spooky and f/f" so I gotta add the book
Matthew Galloway
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creepy, horror, sci-fi
This book really checked all the boxes for me -- isolated person trying to survive a dangerous environment, alien environments, creeping paranoia... And I would say for three quarters (or maybe a bit more) I was utterly hooked.

Before I go on, I want to say that yes, I think you should read this book! I believe the end will work for many people, even though it didn't really work for me. The story and I collaborated to create some plot expectations that just never materialized... But you and this
Bogi Takács
This science fiction/horror mashup in a HUMONGOUS EXTRATERRESTRIAL CAVE was very much up my alley (I think the first adult nonfiction book I ever read was "The Caves of Hungary"...), and I really enjoyed it!! Review hopefully soon.
Source of the book: Print ARC from publisher
Well, thank you, Harry, for bringing this ARC to my attention.

Harry told me today that he was really amazed by the level of talent displayed by Caitlin Starling in this, her debut novel, and I have to say he's very well on the mark. I can see the comparison to Annhiliation from the back-cover copy pretty easily, though it manages to be more minimalist - driven mostly by two characters, one of whom is predominantly offscreen in a mission-control role whom Harry compared to GLaDos, and whom I comp
John Jacobs
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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