ARC Book Review: FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN by Tade Thompson

I received an ARC from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in pink on black on a blue wolf shape
Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone


Book cover for FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN: title in pink of black on a howling blue dog

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


I’m very picky about the sci-fi I read. My reading percentage for the year is currently 80% fantasy and 6% sci-fi. But my sci-fi average rating is a bit higher because I am so picky about what I read that I usually pick books that align closer to my tastes.

What drew me to FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN was the mystery in a current-technology-a-little-projected world. There’s a way to travel long distances faster than simply using engines and an effective long term sleep-state, but that’s pretty much the only tech we don’t have. Everything else is just an enhancement of existing tech.

As a physicist by day, I like my sci-fi generally to be quite scientifically rigourous, with clear, consistency in where the laws have been altered. I like to have the rules I know well to be followed (I am notorious for yelling “but gravity!” when watching movies) and for there to be a solid framework the story works in so there isn’t a deus ex machina of tech. Plus, there’s so much potential for danger in actual space that you can up the tension so easily by simply letting gravity or pressure differentials exist.

Personally, I think anything set on a spaceship that’s got a killer onboard and/or is malfunctioning intrinsically has a dash of horror. It’s that knowledge that space is out to kill you, and the killer could easily help it along by damaging the ship. Loss of pressure. Malfunctioning equipment leading to suffocation or dehydration. Meteor strike. The tension of knowing something is probably going to happen to make survival physically tough and distract – but not knowing what.

FAR FROM THE LIGHT OF HEAVEN uses that certain uncertainty about structural and operational functionality to great affect. It really helps to ratchet up the tension by causing another threat to life and distracting the characters from the mystery – thus making you fear they will get away with it.

As for a mystery, space is the perfect lock-in for murder because there’s no way for the murderer to get off. So you know there’s somewhere – but not who or why. And the lack of anyone else around makes it hard to work those out – which are the key to working it out.

This was my first Tade Thompson book, and I’ll certainly be checking more out!

Read my reviews of other books by Tade Thompson:


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