The Luminous Dead

The Luminous Dead

A Novel

Book - 2019 | First edition.
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When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck; enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother, meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane. Instead, she got Em. Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash, and a lash. And Em has secrets, too. As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies; missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations, drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive; she must confront the ghosts in her own head. But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?
Publisher: New York :, Harper Voyager,, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
Branch Call Number: SCIENCE FICTION
Characteristics: 414 pages :,illustrations ;,21 cm.


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From Library Staff

A young woman falsifies her credentials in order to embark on a highly paid exploratory caving expedition on a distant planet. As it turns out, it's highly paid for a reason - the risks are high and many previous cavers have perished. Kitted out in the latest technology including a suit that bond... Read More »

A young woman falsifies her credentials in order to embark on a highly paid exploratory caving expedition on a distant planet. Turns out it's highly paid for a reason - the risks are high and many previous cavers have perished. She's kitted out in the latest tech including a suit that bonds to he... Read More »

A young woman falsified her credentials in order to embark on a highly paid exploratory caving expedition on a distant planet. Turns out it's highly paid for a reason - the risks are high and many previous cavers have perished. Kitted out in the latest tech including a suit that bonds to her need... Read More »

From the critics

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ArapahoeJohanna Jan 15, 2021

I was promised sci-fi horror, and this book certainly delivered! Dark, creepy, claustrophobic, and twisted, The Luminous Dead is going to haunt me for a while. The novel is built of layers upon layers of isolation, uncertainty, and deceit that combine and overlap to create an ever-escalating sense of dread and despair. Gyre is not only cut off from the world as she enters a dangerous cave system, she's cut off from her own senses by the protective suit that will keep her alive. Her only human contact is with the mysterious Em, who quickly proves herself unreliable. Reading this book feels like we're trapped alongside Gyre as she slowly loses trust in everything around her- even her own sanity.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Sep 04, 2020

For fans of atmospheric thrillers like Gravity, Annihilation and The Martian. I found this story to be a slow, claustrophobic burn that has certainly not made me want to go caving anytime soon! It was interesting but I found the characters to both be quite frustrating but it didn't make me any less interested in what was happening. I like the little nods to diversity (LGBTQ, women and POC) but I appreciate that that's not what the story was about.

Jul 13, 2020

This book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I felt as if I was the caver, diving alone deep under the earth. Quick and thrilling read.

Jan 25, 2020

This book is WAY overrated. It was a great premise and seemed promising but after hours of whining and the same conversations by the two main characters, the thriller part of the book was so short and frankly, silly. Then right back to whining and seemingly no explanation of what the book was even about. Don't waste your time.

Jan 17, 2020

This is a very intense survival story that made me feel claustrophobic while reading it. A young woman on a backwater mining planet contracts for a cave exploration to help her finance a way off the rock she lives on. Her encounters with the hazards of cave crawling (a form of entertainment I participated in on Okinawa a long time ago), possible survivors of previous expeditions, a haunting presence that may or not be real, and her nuanced relationship with the woman who hired her and is her only lifeline to above all mesh to envelope the reader's rapt attention.

Dec 07, 2019

The beginning of this was interesting and kept you engaged. But as it progressed ... it dissolved into something very anticlimatic.

Oct 10, 2019

Not sure if the positive reviewers read the same book as me... The premise was very promising and despite the frequently cringe-y writing (Em wasn't going do to the right thing because... she was Em) and telling instead of showing (again and again and again), I was actually enjoying it quite a bit. But it just fell apart at the end. All the buildup to a massive letdown; the resolution of the monster thread is laughably ridiculous--really, the last fifth of the book as a whole requires far more suspension of disbelief than I could muster. The whole thing is desperately in need of some character development--the trapped in a cave with only two characters relies on it.

Aug 15, 2019

Huh, unlike the other reviewers, I felt the only one trapped in the cave was me.

The good
The psych thriller part worked ok; the relationship development was well done

The bad
The story ran on endlessly; I thought the ending was completely wrong > helllooo? self vs nature story; cliche characters; the monster threat was silly and went nowhere

Jul 22, 2019

It’s like a cross between The Martian and Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. Part psychological thriller with a good bit of survival horror thrown in. A home run from the first time novelist, Starling.

Jul 18, 2019

This is an amazing novel that I devoured in one day. Combining my favorite genres of science fiction, horror, and psychological thriller, this riveting race against time will keep your heart pounding until the final, delightful page.

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Add Notices
Jun 09, 2020

Other: Warning for readers who experience: nyctophobia, claustrophobia, cleithrophobia, mycophobia, emetophobia, and/or entomophobia

Jun 09, 2020

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Scenes include: falling from great heights, crushing, drowning, starvation, suffocation, auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations, suicidal attempts/thoughts, self-amputation, skeletons, corpses, loss of physical control (while in a suit), child abandonment, and isolation.

Age Suitability

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Jun 08, 2019

SOUPCHAMP thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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ReadingAdviser_Sally Sep 01, 2020

That was the look of somebody resigned to being the monster they knew they were.


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