Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.
A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.
Title: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Length: 592 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
mlm main characters, non-white characters
Content and Trigger warnings:
alcohol, attempted murder, blood, bones, branding, death, depression (mentioned), fire, hallucinations, kidnapping, poisoning, pregnancy, skeletons, stalking, suicide
This review is my love letter to The Starless Sea.
The Starless Sea really called to me: I was browsing my local bookstore when I stumbled upon the gorgeous French cover, took a quick look inside, and decided that this book was for me. And I was right.
I am now using the CAWPILE rating system. If you want to know more, please visit my explanation page.
Zachary and Dorian are now part of my numerous bookish children! They, as well as many other characters, are a huge asset for The Starless Sea. I particularly like the mosaic of characters, how they’ve been anchored through time and plot. They all fit so well together, each facet of them finding their reflection in another.
This is probably my favorite part of this book: the atmosphere. I am very fond of this world-building, and it had become one of my favorite bookish universes — *checks for a door that lead to a Harbor*. The whole setting is so particular I have trouble finding the perfect words to describe it but I’d say eerily beautiful might be the best combination. The whole place is haunting, but in a good way, full of memories and meanings, and it makes it so beautiful, mesmerizing.
Writing Style: 9/10
Erin Morgenstern is a wonderful weaver. The Starless Sea is a tapestry of literature, love of books, and ancient tales, intertwined with video games culture and mysterious ancient society. You’re in for a treat! I highlighted so many quotes in my book, either way because I resonated with them, or that I had to paused, in awe. The author’s writing style is the perfect reflection of the atmosphere, serving it so rightly.
But the world is strange and endings are not truly endings no matter how the stars might wish it so.The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern
I could not rate the plot lower. Erin Morgenstern did an extraordinary job of weaving and intricating stories altogether, leaving clues in her way, only to create one beautiful story that holds itself on solid grounds. It’s marvelous, and brilliant, and really smart.
Because of all I’ve already written above about this book, I could only put a good rate in this section. I was hooked, from the beginning until the end. Of course, there were moments a bit slower, hence the rating, but the intrigue was present and real.
I am having difficulties understanding other’s reviews — I’m not saying they’re illegitimate! — who wrote that this book was incomprehensible and senseless. To me, The Starless Sea is a beautiful tribute to stories, its prose like honey, so thoroughly thought and written. I could have easily rated it 10 out of 10, if not for some unanswered questions.
I remember picking up this book in my local bookstore, completely judging it by its French cover — which is beautiful — and casting a quick glance inside its pages without really reading anything, and just feeling it. That it was the kind of book that I would absolutely love. And I was right.
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. It’s nice to finally have someone read stories I know so intimately.The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern
Final rating: 65/70 (score of 9.3)
The Starless Sea is a marvelous tale of time, fate, love, myths, faith, bees, and owls. You’ll love The Starless Sea if you like ancient tales, stories about secret societies, star-crossed lovers, and, of course, books.