The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless SeaFrom 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.

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
ISBN: 1910701467

Pages: 498
Publication Date: 5th November 2019
RRP: $32.99 AUD

Personal Rating:

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.

A high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary’s adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories… exquisitely pleasurable.. a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call. An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.” KIRKUS REVIEW

This book was provided to me by Penguin Random House Australia in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Starless Sea is an intricate weaving of a story within a story within a story. Almost an endless sea of different tales unfolding to tell a much larger and epic tale.

It’s the story of lovers who are constantly forced apart by the stars.

A storyteller desperate for an escape.
A son of a fortunate teller who studies virtual stories until he becomes the story.
A man lost in time searching for a woman sailings the honey seas.
An innkeeper in love with the unattainable moon
And a reader aching to be part of a marvellous tale.

It is hard to describe The Starless Sea in proper coherent words. This fantasy world is a bibliophile dream come true. We follow the story of Zachary Erza Rawlins, a graduate student who finds solace in books. His life remarkably ordinary until he found a particular book in his university’s library. This book tells a single story of him, one from his childhood where he did not open the door that was not a door. Soon Zachary starts investigating the book, trying to figure out its origin and how it knew of the event he had so long forgotten. This leads him to find two individuals who know more than they lead on. And eventually to the Starless Sea.

The Starless Sea takes place in the real world, and a magical underground archive library of sorts that tracks the stories of all those who walked the Earth and all those who ventured into the Starless Sea — which is a place, a being, a thought and you. It is a place where people go to enjoy themselves or become guardians and protectors or to become found and lost. It’s hard to describe what it is without ruining the magic written across the pages.

Weaving Zachary’s narrative, along with fairy-tale-like stories within the novel Erin Morgenstern illustrates what it truly means to be in love with books and finding magic within each of the pages. It’s a story of heartache, adventure, romance, desperation, finding and acceptance. Morgenstern’s poetic writing is like getting home from a long day and melting into bed being surrounded by everyone and everything you love to comfort you with sweet whispers of a better day in your ear. Similar to Night Circus, she makes you nostalgic for a place that never existed but will always welcome you home.

Morgenstern has outdone herself again with an unforgettable love letter to the magic available around us, but precisely to the magic in stories, storytelling and storytellers.

“Strange isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *