The Luminous Sea

The Luminous Sea

by Melissa Barbeau
  • critically-acclaimed
  • debut
  • english-from-canada
  • literary

Melissa Barbeau's The Luminous Sea blends magic and reality in a spellbinding debut novel about our relationship with the unknown and our responsibility to defend the powerless.

When the tides in Damson Bay turn phosphorescent, a team of researchers from a nearby university establish a makeshift lab in an abandoned fishing storehouse to study the strange phenomenon. And while collecting samples of local marine life, Vivienne, a young research assistant, accidentally captures a creature seemingly risen from myth and previously unknown to science. The project's lead researchers quickly assume control of the discovery, and as their invasive scientific testing becomes more and more inhumane, Vivienne finds herself increasingly exploited and vulnerable to harm. With the creature wasting away in secrecy, Vivienne must find a way to release it from history and back into the sea.


Melissa Barbeau, author

Melissa Barbeau is a founding member of the Port Authority Writing Group. She has been anthologized in Racket: New Writing Made in Newfoundland, The Cuffer Anthology, and Paragon. She lives with her husband and gaggle of children in Torbay, Newfoundland.


  • The magic realism of Melissa Barbeau’s debut novel may remind readers of Michael Crummey’s ‘Galore,’ and she belongs in such company. Her writing is alive with wit and description. - Joan Sullivan, The Telegram Link to review
  • Anyone who loves the sea, or feels drawn to stories of the sea, will likely feel drawn to ‘The Luminous Sea’…it is splendid in every way. - Naomi McKinnon, Consumed By Ink Link to review
  • Melissa Barbeau is an extraordinary writer, and I can’t stop talking about this book. - Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This Link to review


  • Finalist, 2018 BMO Winterset Award

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Breakwater Books Ltd.



rights available: World

Additional Information

age range: Adult

number of pages: 240

publication date: 08/14/2018

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book