The Night Circus is one of my all-time favorite books. Obviously, I was incredibly excited to see that after eight long years, we were getting a new Erin Morgenstern book. I almost can’t believe I’ve actually read The Starless Sea because I waited so long for it. But I did. And I loved it.
(All reviews are spoiler-free unless otherwise noted.)
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.
The Starless Sea is a love letter to books (and cats). It’s a bibliophile fantasy. So, naturally I loved it. It was kind of my dream book. There are references to everything from Where the Wild Things Are to Neil Gaiman – which, if you’re wondering, is the perfect combination to make me love something forever. There are libraries and old books and magic and myths and library cats. It was so easy to fall in love with this book. I don’t want to give too much away because I genuinely think they way to approach this book is knowing very little and letting it take you on an adventure.
If you’ve read The Night Circus, you’re already familiar with how gorgeous Erin Morgenstern’s writing is. I’ve read a lot of great authors, and no one writes quite like she does. It’s actual magic, which is exactly how it feels while you’re reading it. I love that her writing draws me into the story in such an immersive and vivid way, but also allows me to appreciate how talented she is.
With The Starless Sea, I did something I never do: I read it slowly. Normally, I fly through books, especially if I’m loving them. But I really wanted to take my time with this one, to immerse myself in the story, and to fully appreciate it. Which I think is definitely the way to go with this book. I highly recommend it.
★★★★★ – Obviously, I loved The Starless Sea. To be honest, I don’t think I loved it quite as much as The Night Circus, but I think I might after rereading it and really taking in everything. Still one of my favorite books of the year. Absolutely beautiful. If you haven’t experienced Erin Morgenstern yet, please do. You won’t regret it.
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