Books, Crime & Mystery, Fiction, Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

This book is for everyone. It is long, the clever sounding plot, full of characters, each one unique and have their own part to play in the story. Set in mid-nineteenth century, it is one of those books to remember for quite a time. The element of murder mystery which is highly anticipated through out the novel might sound regular to some, but it is the the presentation of the mystery that is extraordinary.

When one starts this book, it has a tendency to grab a reader’s attention from the first chapter. Walter Moody is used as a pawn to unfold the mystery that is set in New Zealand goldfields. Thought him a reader is introduced to twelve sophisticated men who have gathered to discuss a secret in which they are all indulged both directly and indirectly. These twelve men are rare characters and is hard to come across such characters in the modern day novels. You might one or two in books written in eighteenth or nineteenth centuries but so many at one place is a rare thing. The secret they share begins with a hermit who is found dead in his cabin, one of the the richest person in town has disappeared, and a local prostitute is found in the middle of a road completely intoxicated. 

Then starts a narrative which will need a reader’s full attention and the first 340 pages of this book are the best as the complex sounding plot is determined through multiple narrators, and a series of events are revealed to the reader by rich words and sentences as well as to Walter Moody.

The book starts to slip as the whole scenario comes to an end and signs of depth shown through Catton’s multiple characters starts to fade. A little more halfway one can easily guess the mystery. When the mystery is over the remaining events are just one final puzzle piece introduced by the author to convey the reader how the mystery formed its origin but it is not. Last few hundred pages are spend and I completely feel it is unnecessary to spend more than hundred pages for this sort. It could have been done in just a mere number of pages. The extraordinary alignment of characters with zodiac signs is a point to observe and will cause a peculiar curiosity in a reader’s mind as it did to mine.

3 out of 5!


8 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton”

  1. My reading group, ManBookering, on Goodreads just finished this one before launching into the long list for this year’s selections. I enjoyed this novel and its characters. Though it was a monster of a book, the length didn’t bother me. Foreshadowing was an element I believe Catton wanted people to notice and she used it to keep people guessing, though, as you say, one might have come up with most of the ending in advance. Thanks for your review.


  2. It’s been a while since I read a good mystery… lately my reading style and preference has changed so much… but I have heard others talk about this book too, so, I’m planning on picking up this one sometime soon. The number of pages intimidate me a bit, since I’ve been really busy lately, and seem to only have time for no more than a few pages every day… because of this I’ve been reading a lot of smaller book (<400 pages). Oh what the heck… I'll give it a go. I have been going through your reviews lately, and I feel like I can trust your taste in books =)


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