Book Review — November 9, 2019 at 12:40 am

The Starless Sea: A Novel


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Product details
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (November 5, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 038554121X
ISBN-13: 978-0385541213
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world—a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues—a bee, a key, and a sword—that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians—it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

“Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories.”

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont, studying video games for his Emerging Media Studies degree. It is J-term, the time in January between semesters and Zachary spends his days reading. Each day begins with a trip to the library to find that day’s books. On this particular day, Zachary finds a peculiar book with a blank spine and cover, no author and the title Sweet Sorrows. He is immediately captivated by the stories in the book and cannot wait to go back to his dorm and continue reading. His excitement turns to shock when he realizes that the third chapter is about him and a day in his childhood when he found a painted door in an alleyway.

And so begins Erin Morgenstern’s spellbinding tale about strange characters, archives of stories and those who record and protect those stories. The book alternates between Zachary’s quest to determine whether the Starless Sea really exists and stories from Sweet Sorrows. At the beginning of the book, the stories seem disjointed but Morgenstern weaves together the many tales in an amazing and beautiful way. The characters are richly written from Mirabel, a pink-haired and powerful woman to Dorian, the handsome and enigmatic stranger who whispers stories in Zachary’s ears. Zachary learns that someone is trying to destroy all doors to the harbor on the Starless Sea while others fight to keep it alive.

The language is the book is beautiful. At one point, Mirabel says, “The weather. It’s like a poem. Where each word is more than one thing at once and everything’s a metaphor. The meaning condensed into rhythm and sound and the spaces between sentences. It’s all intense and sharp, like the cold and the wind.” This is a book written for book-lovers who, like the characters, get so engrossed in stories that they are welcome to any and all possibilities. The Starless Sea is a book that should be read multiple times to gain a different perspective and catch things you may have missed before. This book will grab you and hold onto you until the very end, leading the reader to a magical, fantasy literary world. The Starless Sea is a must read.

About Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern is the author of The Night Circus, a number-one national best seller that has been sold around the world and translated into thirty-seven languages. She has a degree in theater from Smith College and lives in Massachusetts.

Connect with Erin via:
twitter: @erinmorgenstern
instagram: @erinmorgenstern


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