The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
“We are all stardust and stories.“— Erin Morgenstern
Book: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Published: 5TH Nov’19
Genre: Fantasy fiction, Romantic fantasy, Historical fantasy
Publisher: Harvill Secker (Penguin UK)
UK Cover Artist: Suzanne Dean
My Rating: 4.7/5
ARE YOU LOST OR ARE YOU EXPLORING?
When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest like any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.
Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues that he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.
When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.
You are invited to join Zachary on the starless sea: the home of storytellers, story-lovers and those who will protect our stories at all costs.
“Everyone wants the stars. Everyone wishes to grasp that which exists out of reach. To hold the extraordinary in their hands and keep the remarkable in their pockets.“– Erin Morgenstern
“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. Which was your favorite?”, This particular line felt like Erin Morgenstern herself is talking to us about her book.
The Starless Sea was one of the most anticipated releases of the year 2019 partly because of the magic that the author’s previous book – The Night Circus created. I loved that book but was not particularly a fan of the ending. Like any other reader, I was definitely in awe with the way the author narrates her story. To be honest, even though The Starless Sea was on the top of my tbr, I wasn’t expecting to be mind-blown.
The book is divided into 6 books and an afterward. Each book tells us a beautifully woven story about the characters that it entails while simultaneously talking about the present life of the lead character – Zachary Ezra Rawlins!
The story jumps between different timelines and different narratives but somehow manages to keep us hooked and not-so-confused. Each individual story is unique in itself and deserves a book of its own. I am sure there can be at least 7 spin-off’s from this book.
The story-telling is one-of-a-kind. It is something that is to be protected from the harsh world because it is so rare and precious that it will crawl up to you and drown you in it. The way the author weaves words into stories is commendable. Never before have I ever read something so marvelous that I went speechless for a good few minutes after I finished it. Even now, I am trying really hard to collect words from my vocabulary to describe the book that has me awe-struck.
The story revolves around a few symbols or signs – BEE, SWORD, and KEY! A few more make their appearances eventually but these are consistently present. Either in books, or on jewelry or on doors or as tattoos. This is a very beautiful touch and propels the story into an interesting direction.
It was praised as “A love letter to story-tellers”, and rightly so as it contains everything that a story-teller could ever dream of. Piles and piles of books just lying in a secret world that lies beneath the Earth with an ocean made of papers and libraries everywhere. “It is a sanctuary for storytellers and story-keepers and story-lovers. They eat and sleep and dream surrounded by chronicles and histories and myths”, Erin says. The world in itself is engulfing to imagine. The descriptions are exquisite and indulging.
Each story slowly comes together in the end and everything is connected. How did she do that? Only she would know. But man, did she do that elegantly. The book has a lot of loose ends to begin with and in the end, you will be taken aback with the way it all comes together, the way it ends and the way it leaves an everlasting impression on your mind.
I had a feeling that the ending would disappoint me like the night circus did but I cannot think of a better way it could end and honestly, if I had to describe what the book did to me in one word, it would be – “SPEECHLESS”, it has rendered me speechless.
Overall, it’s a fantastic read and I rate it 4.7/5.
“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.“– Erin Morgenstern
There are a few parts of the book that really had me shook. Do not read if you don’t want spoilers.
The one thing I will always remember when I think about the book is how the little stories in the book end up being the important parts that build up to the ending. The story about the pirate and the girl, the fate and time, Eleanor and Simon and the moon and the innkeeper, all of these are little and beautiful. I would love to know more about them but the way they blended into a single ending is what appealed to me.
I simply loved how fate always found a way back to time. Mirabel being Eleanor and Simon’s child was a breathtaking moment. The hand in the jar at Allegra’s place that Zach encounters belonging to Simon was a good touch. Zach being gay and his mom not even reacting to it as if it is something to react to was amazing. I live for such moments in stories. I could see myself in Kat with the way she reacted to that discovery.
The starless sea is a sea of honey. The fate’s heart was used to restart Zach’s. Ugh! There is so much I loved about the book that I am unable to put that into words.
“A boy at the beginning of a story has no way of knowing that the story has begun.”– Erin Morgenstern
One good part of good story-telling is that you unknowingly fall in love with the characters. The following are the beautiful characters that I absolutely adored.
- ZACHARY EZRA RAWLINS: A graduate student in Vermont who is an introvert that loves spending his time in the library. He is gay and “HE BELIEVES IN BOOKS. THAT MUCH HE KNOWS FOR SURE!” I do not think that I need to even talk more about him to make you fall for him. He is so driven and determined.
- MIRABEL: She is a fate and she is also the sculptor of the stories. As she says, she does not write the stories, she only creates pathways to propel them into different directions. She is such a strong character and I cannot stop thinking about how beautifully pink her hair is. She has lived and died and triumphed and has always found a way to TIME.
- KATE: She comes as a breath of fresh air. Making an appearance only in the beginning, I did not expect her to make a comeback and she does and it is amazing. As a shirt that she wears says – “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature”, she definitely is well-read and I am pretty sure is dangerous. Is the starless sea going to have a part II? If yes, I would happily spend all my savings to find out what journey Kate goes through in the starless sea.
THE KITCHEN: A kitchen that gives you everything and anything? Can I get myself one of those? Pretty please? Erin Morgenstern is such a creative genius that she managed to make us love a place and then ended up giving it much more meaning than we ever could have begun to imagine. It was totally unexpected that the kitchen would end up being the bees in the sea. I still want it though.
And just like that, I have finished reading and blabbering about a very beautiful book that ends on a note that – ‘But this is not where their story ends. Their story is only just beginning. And no story ever truly ends as long as it is told.’
Also, can somebody please buy me this necklace already?
“It doesn’t look like anything special, like it contains an entire world, though the same could be said of any book.”– Erin Morgenstern
Reasons to read the book:
- LGBTQ+ literature
- Magical writing
- Imagination like no other
- The story has books, libraries and keepers of the books
- The character development is beautiful
- It has a role playing game feel as the author was inspired by RPG’s while writing the book
- Will leave you longing for more
- The ending might feel like a cliffhanger or an open-end to begin another story which could be mildly infuriating
“How are you feeling? Zachary asks. “Like I’m losing my mind but in a slow, achingly beautiful sort of way.”– Erin Morgenstern