Primary Genre(s): Fantasy, Fiction
Published: 5 November 2019 by Doubleday Books
Page count: 498
My Format: Audiobook via Outlook
Would I recommend it: Probably
Commission Link: Buy The Starless Sea
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
I read The Night Circus back in 2014 and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was immediately added to my Top 10 Most Favorite Books list and it hasn’t been bumped off yet. So, needless to say, I have been super anxious for Morgenstern to publish another book! I’ve been anticipating the release of The Starless Sea for what seems like forever! By some miracle I was able to get the audiobook version on Overdrive right after it was published!! I must have put it on hold the moment it was listed in the catalog!! Here are my pros and cons for The Starless Sea:
- This book should be considered the epitome of fantastically overlapping narratives! Holy smokes! All of the overlapping narratives, strange places, strange stories, and even moving timelines were crazy! But I think it came together nicely in the end.
- Several books came to mind as I was reading this – The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon), Every Heart a Doorway (Seanan McGuire), and even The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Alix E. Harrow) to an extent. The Shadow of the Wind is also on my Top 10 Most Favorite Books list so I was excited about the similarities. Plus The Shadow of the Wind is even mentioned in The Starless Sea!!
- Zachary mentions at one time that he wants more to the stories he is reading. Like there is more beyond just pages in books and he wants to know about that part of the story – the part you can’t read. I completely get that! I have said this so many times about books I’ve read, and most particularly for short stories. This single statement really made me feel a connection to Zachary.
- I don’t think this is a book you just read. I think you actually need to experience a story like this. You need to live it, wander through it, dream with it, bask in it. I actually love books like this.
- The world building in the book was fascinating in my opinion! The imagery was amazing and mysterious and there are cats! CATS!!
- The prose is phenomenal and almost poetic.
- This is a fairy tale for adults!
- Zachary states at one time that he wishes he could just be a reading major in college – “No response papers, no exams, no analysis, just the reading.” Jeez! Add getting paid for reading and that is my life goal!
- I love audiobooks. I really love audiobooks! But I think I did the book a disservice by opting to experience this book for the first time via audio. There was a lot to keep track of and the audio version made that difficult for me this time. Plus, a couple of the narrators had distracting voices (one was really breathy and odd) and I know that had an impact on how I experienced the book.
- I did feel a little lost at times… and I honestly have to wonder if the author did this purposefully, so that the reader is lost just as Zachary (and others) are “lost”. Even if purposeful, I was a little too confounded at times.
- While I loved the meandering and dreamlike quality of this tale, I did feel like it might have gotten a little too convoluted and a bit off track from time to time. I did find myself occasionally wondering where the story was going.
Yes, I am giving this book 3 stars. That isn’t a bad rating – it means that I liked the book. But I really wanted to love the book. I think my excitement to finally have another Erin Morgenstern book to read made me to race through it way too quickly. I wanted to devour the book and I should have savored it instead. I just don’t think I got out of it what I could have gotten out of it if I had approached the book less frantically. So I want a do over.
Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.
This quote from the book really resonated with me because I absolutely did not let this book speak to me this time around, at least not fully. And like I said previously, I don’t think the form I used to experience the book (audio) was the best choice for this particular story. But I am going to find another sometime, and another form, and I am going to try again. I am going to read slowly and savor every word. I bet I find more to love next time and I’ll update my post and maybe my rating then.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Starless Sea. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(image from Goodreads)