THE STARLESS SEA by Erin Morgenstern

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 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. 


Title : The Starless Sea
Author : Erin Morgenstern
Format : ARC
Page Count : 487
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Doubleday Books
Release Date : November 5, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime.

Let’s just get this out of the way, shall we? This won’t be a book for everyone. Just like THE NIGHT CIRCUS worked for you.. or it didn’t. But I can’t get enough of the way this author writes. Which makes it a travesty this is only book two from her. And yet.. if it takes this long to come up with something like this? I’ll happily wait. Again and again and again.

His religion is buried in the silence of freshly fallen snow, in a carefully crafted cocktail, in between the pages of a book somewhere after the beginning but before the ending.

If you enjoy evocative imagery, you’ll love this book. If you enjoy non-linear and/or disjointed narrative storytelling, you’ll love this book. If you enjoy stories within stories within stories (and on and on), you’ll love this book.

Do you want to know the secret to surviving once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole? [..] Be a rabbit.

I don’t know what to say about this one. Truly. It defies explanation and instead should just be experienced. It’s weird and wonderful and will wholly consume you. It’s complicated, it’s fantastic, it’s relevant, fantastical, and even a little bit meta. I have a feeling this is a read that’ll get better with every revisit and it’s already pretty fucking great after only one read.

“Sorry it’s so poetry out.”
So what?
Poetry. The weather. It’s like a poem. Where each word is more than one thing at once and everything’s a metaphor. The meaning condenses into rhythm and sound and the spaces between sentences. It’s all intense and sharp, like the cold and the wind.”
You could just say it’s cold out.
I could.

This is a story I didn’t want to leave while I was in it, and is lingering with me even now, and I’m sure I’ll still be thinking about it tomorrow. And the next day. But the one thing I’ll mention? I’m adding to this review on my “tomorrow” after having read, and reviewed, this yesterday. And the one thing I woke up thinking about was.. as much as I wanted to love the romance, I don’t think it endures. I don’t want to spoil things or get into detail on this one bit where I didn’t detail anything else but as much as I was living for certain elements, in hindsight, they do kind of pale against the rest. So. I’m knocking this down just a little from my original five stars. Maybe I’ll feel different in a reread? I don’t know. That said, it’s the only bit of weakness in an otherwise very strong story.

A boy at the beginning of a story has no way of knowing that the story has begun.

My recommendation? Skip over the summary (which I never did read, ever) and just dive in. Do it now.

** I won an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in a giveaway with no obligation to review. **

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