The Luminaries

Eleanor Catton

fiction historical literary mystery
adventurous challenging reflective slow-paced

864 pages

The bestselling, Man Booker Prize-winning novel hailed as "a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly." -- New York Times Book Review

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to stake his claim in New Zealand's booming gold rush. On the stormy night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of 12 local men who have met in secret to discuss a series of unexplained events: a wealthy man has vanished, a prostitute has tried to end her life, and an enormous cache of gold has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely ornate as the night sky.

Richly evoking a mid-nineteenth-century world of shipping, banking, and gold rush boom and bust, The Luminaries is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.

What the community thinks

summary of 1162 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

Expand filter menu View warnings


mysterious 85%
adventurous 73%
challenging 35%
reflective 33%
emotional 23%
tense 23%
dark 21%
hopeful 9%
informative 9%
sad 9%
funny 7%
inspiring 4%
lighthearted 2%
relaxing 2%


slow 61%
medium 36%
fast 2%

Plot- or character-driven?

A mix: 50% | Plot: 33% | Character: 16%

Strong character development?

Yes: 62% | It's complicated: 22% | No: 14%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 44% | No: 32% | Yes: 23%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 60% | No: 28% | It's complicated: 10%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 77% | No: 13% | It's complicated: 8%

Average rating