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A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall

Hello everyone!

Today’s book review is a bit of a tough one for me. I had really high hopes for this novel but it just fell flat for me. Thank you to Orbit Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book. This post may include spoilers.

Lets get into it!

Here are the quick facts:


Publishers: Orbit Books | Orbit

Publishing Date: April 23, 2024

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)/ Sci Fi & Fantasy

Rating: 2/5 stars

400 pages  

A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall is an epistolary novel set in a sci -fi world where people live on islands/at sea/under the sea. It was unclear what happened that caused humans to live in the water but it’s about 1200 years after this event. In this world The Cidnosins, Arvist, Sophy (Philosophy) and E. (Erudition) are children of a famous scholar, who created Deep House, an underwater architectural feat. E. has taken to taking care of the Deep House while Arvist and Sophy are scholars. Henerey Clel, another scholar, strikes up a correspondence with E.

The novel opens up with Sophy and Vyerin trying to piece together the events that lead to the disappearance and assumed deaths of E. and Henerey. Together, they compile all their personal correspondence, articles and other notes to explain how and why E. and Henerey disappeared.

There were a few things that I did enjoy about this book. The concept was intriguing especially considering it’s implied that magic is part of the reason why the concept of scholars and the creations of the scholar system. I also really enjoyed E. and Henerey’s romance. Neither character was perfect but they complimented the other so well. I liked that both E. and Henerey’s disabilities were not seen as derogatory but just part of what are them who they were.

As much as I wanted to love this book, there was quite a lot I didn’t enjoy. The plot was convoluted. There was so much happening from Sophy’s expedition to Henerey’s expedition and E. learning of the secret society their mom was a part of. And on top of all that there was the additional narration from Sophy and Vyerin. I felt like there was almost too much information and jumping back and forth. I understand that it’s necessary to have all this world building but it seemed like there was extra in order to set up a sequel.

I found the writing style was far too formal. I understand that the characters were scholars and a more formal tone even in personal letters makes sense, but it was to the point where it made the book difficult to read. I also felt that there wasn’t enough of a tone shift between characters which really affect the impact of a book when it’s epistolary. It felt like one person was writing the whole story when it should have been multiple distinct voices.

Overall, it was not the novel for me but it might be someone else’ favorite book. I do think someone out there may really love this book. Again thank you to Orbit books and Netgalley for the advanced copy. If you would like to read the book for yourself I have linked places to read it below. 

Until next time!


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