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Letters from the Light

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In a future Australia, where light is only for the powerful and the poor struggle in darkness, Sam grew up praying for a way out. Living as the only sighted boy in a town of blind workers was tough. Discovering it didn't have to be that way was tougher.

Sam is just one of the five desperate people, each from vastly different societies in a deeply divided land, who must survive prejudice, calamity and each other, to unlock the secrets of their world, and ultimately help a fabled AI defeat an ancient foe.

Letters from the Light is a debut dystopian sci-fi novel by Australian author Shel Calopa. Join her and celebrate diversity, explore the corrupting influence of power, and ask whether it's truly possible to break free of your upbringing.

What would you do to escape the dark?

469 pages, ebook

Published December 15, 2019

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About the author

Shel Calopa

7 books163 followers
Its coming!!!

Finally the book you've all been asking for - Missals from the Dark - sequel to Letters from the Light. Available October 1st.

We pick up the story three years later. The climate is failing, Kohl is missing, Spectra and Governor Pallas are down in Melbourne bringing back true night, and a dragon riding numan is trying to kill Aggy. If only the rebels had more Letters from the Light to guide them. Perhaps help is closer than they think.

If you love your scifi a bit on the fantasy side, with strong women, diverse characters and a liberal dose of social discussion then this is the book for you.

Pre-order now on Amazon.

By the way if you are wondering about me...

My novels are mostly set in the sci-fantasy genre, but I only use science as the backdrop against which characters struggle with the contemporary issues of class, gender and power. Actually it’s all a little bit dystopian.

I am a passionate believer that all our small lives are connected, valuable and critical to the collective journey. So thank you for connecting with me and reading my work.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 52 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
April 3, 2020
For a book full of underdogs, marginalized characters, and pretty clear-cut bad guys that cross the line back and forth between being allies and antagonists, I still developed a distinct impression that I was reading a pretty standard SF adventure. You know, rebellion against the social machine, disgust with the old order, and the hard-scrabble for survival against stacked odds. That's fine for what it is, but it's not overly unique.

On the other hand, this novel is also jammed-packed with massive amounts of totally awesome worldbuilding and a seriously hardcore SF ethos. From a lush future Australia to spacecraft with failing pods, planetary colonies set up and sadly abandoned to their own worst failure modes, machine life, nanotech, and a very, very cool tech focused on light.

It's the SF ethos that I really appreciated. Oh, and the end sequence was ALL kinds of awesome. :)
Profile Image for Cori McCarthy.
123 reviews8 followers
July 8, 2020
Before I kick off this review, I would first like to thank the author and publishing team for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! I was truly excited to read it, and now let's get to it!

This book was an absolute adventure! When I read the synopsis for this book, I was immediately intrigued because it was something unique and something I personally haven't heard of before. This is a dystopian read set in Australia, and light being the one source not everyone can have. The elite caste live in constant light, and the lower caste live in pure darkness. When reading through the story, we get to see character's from both castes, and how different they really are. One of my favorite things about this book was all the character pov's we get to read from. Getting to see the different ideals, and motivations from both sides of the caste was truly interesting to see. It took me a couple of chapters to fully remember who each character is, because the pov switches every chapter and there are 5 main point of views, but once my brain accustomed, I really did enjoy it! Out all the different character's I found myself really invested into Harper and Sam's story lines! Every character in this story was really intriguing, and by the end, I felt connected to all of them, just in different ways. The only thing I would say was the beginning was a bit slow for me, and all the different pov's happening, but as the story went on, I enjoyed it!

All in all, this book was truly a joy to read, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good dystopian, sci-fi read! Get ready for some amazing characters, an intriguing world, and an unforgettable story!

"She threw her hood back and shook her auburn hair out in a very un-Sisterly manner. For a moment they were just two girls out for an afternoon stroll, not two highly-trained operatives."
-Shel Calopa

Final Rating: 4/5 Stars

Profile Image for Caroline Noe.
Author 6 books64 followers
December 10, 2019
A craft, filled with the sleeping, travels through space on a rescue mission. A girl almost drowns in a flood. A boy lives in perpetual darkness, surrounded by the blind, whilst a privileged few party in the light, oblivious to the suffering around them. Politics and faith are not what they seem in Calopa's extraordinary science fiction novel, taking these and many more disparate strands and weaving an intricate, mysterious plot that twists and turns in the style of a thriller. Characters grow, page after page, and you feel that you know them... until you don't.
Cleverly marrying the feel of The Handmaid's Tale and an espionage Saga, the plot strands pull ever tighter, heading, inexorably, towards a showdown. But with whom or what?
Intelligent, complex, entertaining and surprising, this book is one of this year's most compelling reads.
Profile Image for Joshua Grant.
Author 24 books237 followers
March 30, 2021
Shel Calopa introduces us to a dystopian future where light is used as a bargaining chip in Letters From the Light! This sci fi epic follows five diverse characters as the rich oppress the poor, religion is used as a weapon, and an AI sparks a rebellion. I loved the variety that Calopa presents us with, from the imaginative and deep characters to the cool original idea of light itself being used as a commodity! This novel brings in the best parts of both dystopian fic and sci fi and blends them into a deep narrative about the methods people try to oppress one another with. If you’re looking for a fresh original sci fi dystopian adventure, step into the light with Letters From the Light!
Profile Image for Joyce.
647 reviews
February 12, 2022
I would love to give a huge thank you to Brigid over at Inspired Quill for sending me a digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

When I got the blurb for this book, I was very excited. This is a sci-fi/dystopian read. And boy was this an adventure. The story is set in Australia in which human as well as artificial intelligence live together in a world by which light is the source not everyone is permitted to. Indeed, with the class system, the elites have access to the light and unfortunately the poor are to work underground in the darkness. In order to make sure the poor don’t escape and use up the light source from the elite, they are blinded after birth. One of the main characters, Sam lives in the underground among the poor yet despite that he is not blinded…From the beginning, this book is filled with action. Characters are introduced, so it might be confusing because of all the name and plot lines. For me, it is midway through the book that it really picks up. Mysteries are unveiled and it is where there were so many jaw dropping moments. There was so much guessing with this, it was so entertaining. Unfortunately, that was the only interesting part. I loved the sci-fi elements such as androids, time space, pods, nanotech and high end tech. As well as the dystopian elements of rebellion, power struggle, oppression and barriers between social class. It was a great merge of the two genres. I really enjoyed the diversity in characters. The characters growth and development sucks you in and captivates you. However those were it. I was confused in the beginning and sadly the end didn’t do it for me which is why I give it 3 stars.
Profile Image for Anne Goodwin.
Author 10 books58 followers
December 28, 2019
Letters from the Light is an Australian sci-fi fantasy adventure, in a vivid world where only the elite have access to light. While some toil underground in darkness, blinded in infancy so they won’t stray, royalty parties above ground. While the Rats plot revolution, a wide cast of characters tease the reader as allies become enemies, and enemies friends. Expect lots of alternative world building, jeopardy, nods to diversity and touches of humour: I particularly liked the notion of a verdant Sydney Arbour.
Profile Image for Blue.
1,549 reviews83 followers
June 20, 2020
Want to see more...


Thank you to the author for this book in exchange for an honest review

Look I will never say no to a dystopian book – I read them so I am mentally prepared for that day to come. Because at this stage in life, anything is possible!
So basically the concept of the dystopian future really sits well with me and the fact that is based in Australia is also a bonus point since most people forget that we are even on the map. In this future setting light is basically a rationed source that is only obtainable by the wealthy while the poorest members of society are purposefully blinded soon after birth. Sam, our leading character is saved from being blinded and his ability to see is what Letters from the Light is based around.
The main characters were all well rounded and enjoyable but I did struggle to try and keep up with all the side characters names and descriptions because there were a fair few of them to keep track of. Harper was probably my favourite character and I found myself more invested in her outcome than that of Sam.
The world building was smack on point. There parts were you could visually see or know but then adding the dystopian element to it made it more enjoyable.
Over all this book was extremely well written and I loved the story and of course the Australian setting was fantastic. It would be great to check out more of Calopa’s work
Profile Image for RJ Henne.
18 reviews3 followers
February 6, 2021
DNF - the world building, writing, and characters didn't resonate enough with me to continue. Everything has been used before, been repurposed, or just poorly developed (except for the premise, which was actually really cool) . I am doomed to be woefully disappointed by most attempts at sci-fi it seems :(
Profile Image for Julia Blake.
Author 17 books163 followers
December 20, 2019
What an interesting and imaginative read this was. A long-time fan of sci-fi, I don’t tend to read much of it now and this novel was a timely reminder of just how much I enjoy it. The world-building was superb, and straightaway we are introduced to a strange and dark land which sounds like Australia, but you quickly realise is very far from the land Down Under we know and love.

In the very beginning, the characters are thrown at you in a scattergun effect and the years jump by at a light-speed pace, which took me a few blinks to figure out, but then the story settles down to an all too familiar tale of oppression, insurrection and rebellion. Yet don’t think this means this story is predictable because it is far from that. There are characters you believe are good who turn out to be bad, although conflicted. There is a main character who appears to be a shallow spoilt brat, ready to switch allegiances at the drop of a hat, and they kept me guessing the whole way through as to what side they would finally end up on.

Not being a fan of the dark myself, the concept of a planet blanketed in total darkness and only lit by artificial means that could fail at any given moment, was one that gave me shudders. Add to that, the fact that how much light you have depends on your wealth and status, and you have an underbelly of society permanently living in almost pitch-black conditions.

There are characters who are “chosen ones” – of course, there are, what sci-fi quest novel would be complete without them – but these chosen ones are also free to make their own decisions, and although there is a prophecy concerning their destinies – again, of course, there is – they constantly war with it in favour of following their own hearts and minds.

Very well-written, the tale leaps along at a good pace, only occasionally slowing to allow the reader a moment to catch their breath, before plunging once more into a new, vividly drawn, scenario. The whole book is enormous fun and there are some wonderful moments of light-hearted humour which break up the darkness. I really loved the purely Aussie touches as well, and I’m so pleased the author made no attempt to “Americanise” her writing. There are a lot of American writers and American novels around, and a lot of wannabe American writers attempting to pen American novels. It is both honest and refreshing to come across a writer who stands proud by her heritage and refuses to change her style to suit a trend.

With a nicely surprising ending, this is an enjoyable and engrossing read that is earning a very well-deserved five stars from me.
Profile Image for Amy.
184 reviews35 followers
April 17, 2020
I received a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Shel Calopa, and the publisher, Inspired Quill UK, for this opportunity.

Full review available at warmdayswillnevercease.wordpress.com

I really enjoyed the concept of this book. In the dystopian future of Letters from the Light, light is a rationed resource, reserved by the wealthy as the poorest in society are forced to live in darkness. The poorest members of society are purposefully blinded soon after birth so that light can be reserved for those in power but Sam, one of the main characters, is saved from this fate and his ability to see is what drives the plot of the novel. It’s set in a time where humans and AI live and work together but everyone is still separated by the class system. I thought the plot was unique and interesting and I found myself captivated by the story almost immediately.

It took me a while to remember who all of the characters were – since there were so many – but I really liked the main five characters. They were all well-rounded characters with interesting backstories and realistic flaws. I particularly liked Sam and Harper and I found myself slightly more invested in them than the others (sorry to the other characters) but Spectra was another fascinating character. He was sly, always skulking about in the shadows, listening to conversations and hunting Sam down. I just really liked him for some reason. I that I think my only issue with the book was the sheer number of characters that I needed to keep track of while I was reading. Sometimes, I couldn’t remember who was who except for the main characters.

Calopa built an interesting and immersive world in Letters from the Light. I love that it’s set in Australia because it’s a landscape that at once feels so familiar to me and yet so foreign. It’s a beautiful but dangerous landscape and Calopa uses the landscape of Australia in very interesting ways within the novel. I loved the descriptive writing style that Calopa used in this novel and I thought that the novel was very well-paced too. There’s plenty of intense action in the novel but it is contrasted with quieter, introspective moments which I enjoyed.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I’m so glad that the author reached out to me. It was an immersive escape from reality and a very interesting take on the dystopian future of the Earth. I’d recommend reading it if you’re in the market for a unique book about AI and fate of the Earth.
Profile Image for Laura Escamilla.
13 reviews
July 12, 2020
First and foremost, I would like to thank the author and publishing team for sending me an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I haven't read much Science Fiction so I was truly excited to read this book after I had the chance to review the synopsis. 

Letters from the Light by Shel Calopa was a great adventure and a must read for all Sci-fi fans. In Calopa's Australian-like dystopia, humans and artificial intelligence (AI) live together in a world in which light is a rationed resource. Amongst the class systems, the wealthy elite are provided access to the light. While the poor must work underground in the darkness. As though that wasn't enough, the poor are also blinded shortly after birth to ensure they don't escape and use up the elite's light source. Sam, one of the five main characters, lives among the poor underground but unlike the others he was not blinded. As Sam's storyline unfolds more it ultimately becomes the premise behind the plot. Which I don't mind at all because Sam, without a doubt, is my favorite character. 

The beginning of this novel was a bit confusing to me. We are thrown into the point-of-views of five different main characters: Aggy, Sam, Harper, Spectra and Kohl. While I love this original approach to the story, it did take me some time to get a good grasp of everyone. Once I did, the story really unfolded into a captivating piece about politics, faith, diversity and prejudice. It was descriptive and fast-paced with brief pauses in the story where we had the chance to reflect with each character. 

Ultimately, this novel was well-crafted, captivating and original. If you're looking for a Science Fiction novel you haven't seen before, search no further, this is it. 

Overall rating: ⅘ ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Profile Image for David Baldwin.
4 reviews1 follower
August 13, 2020
In my opinion, the beauty about reading is that you find yourself in the mind of an author and into their world. ‘Letters from the Light’ has the ability to take you into Shel Alopa’s world and one that may not be too far away from our own reality. I will say, the author does introduce one too many characters and storylines early on, in which it is easy to get lost in the madness of the different sects of society and organization for the future world in Australia. But, once one becomes familiar with the characters, the world takes on a unique and real adaptation of the future. Shel adapts our fear of technology mixed with dictatorship to create an undiscovered world.
This book had all the elements; mystery and twists, innocence and seduction, thrill and comfort. It’s like a ‘Black Mirror’ episode that doesn't end after one hour. The world she creates truly captures your imagination and doesn’t let you go to bed before 2AM so long as you can keep reading more. I appreciate the multiple perspectives, the multiple heroes, and the tragedy that makes the society work.
I would recommend this book to all of my friends but not if English is not their first language, it may be confusing. Again, this book is well worth it. They bring you to the brink of understanding and then throw a new twist that had you staying up at night. I would read this book again just to fully capture the intense passion that Shel clearly has for her writing. Excited to read more of Shel Calopa’s novels and Quill publications.
Profile Image for Amanda.
1 review
July 7, 2020
Thank you to the author and a representative from Inspired Quill for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Overall, this was a wonderful and enjoyable read! It really does reflect a interesting dystopian world, with a mix of government and religion within it. Though I felt it was a long read, it has many redeeming qualities to help you through it. The imagery used within the book was fantastic - I could picture myself in this world without feeling overwhelmed or bored. I am very happy with that since if it is not the right balance of this, I feel lost and disengaged within my reading. The point of view for the characters does change often, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of, however each are developed and interesting enough to keep your attention on who is who. There was no feeling of "ugh, I don't want to read from this character's POV I want to go back to the other one" as I was interested in all of their stories and how they connect (and trust me they do which is exciting). I would definitely recommend this read for anyone interested in the genre and look forward to reading it again!
Profile Image for Rach scifi.book.club.
93 reviews62 followers
July 13, 2020
This was one book that kept me guessing right up until the very end!

This book drops you right into the action from page one. The characters are introduced individually, so there are a lot of names to get to grips with in the beginning. But as the story progresses, and the characters meet, it all fell into place!

The story centres on the struggle between two opposing characters: the Master, a corrupt and power-crazed old man; and the Light, an AI who has developed a personality. As they fight for control they draw together a small crew of misfits - Sam, a member of a religious group similar to monks; Harper, part of a society which I imagine as something from the Handmaids Tale; Kohl, who is an arrogant rich kid, and Abbey/Alpha, the leader of the rebellion/seriously cool gal (my fave character).

I really liked the vivid descriptions of the futuristic towns and cities - in particular a town with an entirely deaf population. Since the townspeople primarily communicated visually, the towns entire structure and layout had been used to maximise this form of communication. Such a cool idea.

If you enjoy fast paced and twisty sci-fi fantasy books (with a little romance subplot) then give this one a go
Profile Image for Yari.
1 review
July 20, 2020
The story is set in the future in dystopian Australia. Where light is for the rich and the poor live in darkness. Reading the first chapter gave me a City of Ember vibe, only to change in the next coming chapters. If you have read Harrison Bergeron, then you know how the government limit its citizens and make people have handicaps so they can be "equal" with everyone. Well in Letters from the Light, it's slightly different. People are controlled by religion and are blinded at birth. Light is used by the rich for power. On top of that, you also have a craft full of sleeping people going on a rescue mission. The book definitely has some twist and turns. I really enjoyed it. It is filled with a wide array of characters, so it may be hard to keep up, if you have a hard time remembering names, but you quickly will start to remember the characters as you keep reading. Another thing, if you don't have a large vocabulary, you may have a hard time understanding some of the terminology. Besides that, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Profile Image for Kelly.
180 reviews6 followers
July 13, 2020
A huge thank you to Brigid at Inspired Quill for the digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

I really enjoyed the last book that I reviewed for Inspired Quill so, when asked again, I jumped at the chance. After reading the synopsis, I was very excited and intrigued. Letters From the Light's premise was very unique so I was hoping for something new. It did not disappoint.

There were a lot of characters and it took me some time to remember who everyone was. The five main characters were very well developed, deep and well rounded characters. They were realistic and had flaws which only made them more likeable.

I truly enjoyed the setting and the way that Calopa weaves it into the story almost as another character. She was very descriptive and you could almost feel yourself there while you are reading.

This was a truly enjoyable book that was written in a descriptive and well-paced manner but still has intense action. For those that are fans of AI and dystopian fiction, Letters from the Light should definitely go on your TBR list!

Profile Image for T.K. Toppin.
Author 23 books38 followers
February 5, 2020
It's clear that Shel Calopa has been working on the concept of this book for some time. It's a well thought out clever, imaginative, detailed and meaty tale, filled with unique characters that each have their own voice. All this set against an Australian background with a dystopian theme. The melange of ethnicities and cultures blended with concerns that reflect, all too glaringly, our own real-world problems was brilliant. My personal favourite character was Sam, and I also thought the part where they go to Coober Pedy and the citizens they find there to be particularly exceptional. The imagination and creativity with which it was handled was amazing, bringing to mind the colourful opals the underground city produced. I hope Shel Calopa writes a sequel, because I'd love to know what happens next!
Profile Image for Kristy.
344 reviews5 followers
May 31, 2020
The book is set in a world where light is only available to the upper class of society. The main protagonist in the beginning of the story is about a boy named Sam who has grown up in a town full of blind workers.

I really enjoyed the references that the author made to Australian cities and culture. The author has mixed this well in a setting with advanced technology given to the elite and very basic and poor living conditions of the working class.

I found this story quite creative and there were definitely underlying messages about prejudices and how generations can inherit prejudices, but that there can also be the ability for our prejudices to be influenced by others as well.

Overall this was a great read that I would give 3.5 stars out of 5.
Profile Image for Saily Bhagwat.
27 reviews1 follower
December 25, 2019
Letters from the Light is a fast-paced, feminist allegory that make us question the stark barriers between humankind and humanity, the path to Illumination and the realm of Darkness and the hard choices between loyalty, survival and morality. It's setting is an intricate tapestry, weaving together subterranean settlements, pockets of futuristic landscapes and a cosmos traversed by mankind. The characters overcome various barriers of class, disability and gender-based oppression as they come together to save a world from itself, as dangers approach simultaneously from its own core as it does from other worlds.
125 reviews2 followers
March 11, 2020
*I received a free copy of this book from the author via voracious readers only in exchange for an honest review*
This was one of those books which I find really hard to review, not because I didn’t enjoy it but because I just want to shout “it was amazing, you must read it now” and have done with it. Everything about it was so well executed, Shel introduces us to this amazingly complex and diverse world jam packed with secrets. There were so many twists and turns that I didn’t expect that kept me guessing.
The only thing I will say is that the ending didn’t feel like the end, it didn’t feel like everything was resolved so maybe there’ll be another book? I hope so!
Profile Image for Dorothy Winsor.
Author 12 books48 followers
December 23, 2019
This story is set in a dystopian future Australia in which most people live in literal darkness and light is reserved as a privilege for the powerful. That’s a great premise that serves as a subtle comment on our current ecological uncertainty. The book has a large cast and a packed plot that sometimes left me scrambling to keep up. There are truly hateful villains and some valiant, clever rebels to cheer for. If you’re looking for a story you haven’t seen a dozen times before, this is it.
11.5k reviews51 followers
January 30, 2020
Sunlight is now only for the rich while the poor live in darkness all the time. Nearly everyone around him are blind while he can see. He will be joined by a few different people who try to help an AI defend an ancient evil. Will they be able to do so? Can they beat it? What will happen if they do? See where you will be taken on this read

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for P.A. Mason.
Author 24 books280 followers
February 3, 2020
Shel Calopa takes us to a new world with familiar names for fellow Aussies. Where light is a commodity, a caste system springs up favouring those with superior genetics. In true Aussie spirit, the underdogs band together to take it up to the elitists and seek equality and retribution for heinous crimes against infants. With detailed world building, Shel transports us to a brand new place and time, where ‘The Light’ is elusive and civil war is more complicated than it appears.
30 reviews1 follower
July 21, 2020
This book had everything in it. Little romance, a sisterhood corrupted by the light and a brotherhood corrupted by the Master. Lots of underdogs that meet up to have to bring down dark forces and a corrupt society. Had different sects of community and different socioeconomic classes. Plus it took place in the future. Which side wins the light or the master? You will have to read the book to find out. Very interesting read and kept you guessing until
The very end.
Profile Image for WeLoveBigBooksAndWeCannotLie.
377 reviews21 followers
September 21, 2020
We recently received a copy of Letters From The Light by Shel Capola. We love when authors gift us their books to read and review! This is her debut novel and it’s of the dystopian sci-fi genre. Now this is not my favorite genre. Sci-fi language is not my jam...however, once I really got in to the story, I enjoyed it. I loved the characters that Shel was able to bring to life through her imagination. She is a truly talented author and I highly recommend that you give this book a try, even if it’s not your go-to genre. Casey and I have really stepped out of our comfort zone, book-wise, and we encourage all of you to also take a leap into a different book genre than what you are used to!
Profile Image for Natalie Esperanza.
Author 1 book6 followers
March 2, 2020
LOVED this book with a capital L. If you want to push your boundaries and stretch your imagination then this book is for you. It’s a delicious dystopian sci-fi story and that will have you turning the pages through the night! If you’re like me and tired of the same old same old...please give this book a try! You will not be disappointed
Profile Image for Pat Eroh.
2,587 reviews28 followers
January 6, 2020
A very good dystopian read with a great message. We are alike and different and mutual respect is paramount. This book grabbed me and kept me reading throughout.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
March 16, 2020
If you like to escape from every day life and immerse yourself in the adventures of fictional characters fighting for light this book is for you.
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