From 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.
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 of 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Pirates, painters, owls, cats, fate, and time—all of these and more can be found in Erin Morgenstern’s dreamy fantasy. Toward the beginning of The Starless Sea, graduate student Zachary finds something strange in an old book: a story from his own childhood. That discovery leads him to a hidden world that holds every tale ever told, a land which is now in danger. As she did with her bestseller, The Night Circus, Morgenstern creates a magical setting that lives and breathes with suspense and emotion. Ultimately, Zachary’s quest is all about stories—how we tell them and how they shape our lives. We were reluctant to leave this exhilarating world for our own mundane reality.
Built from fables, myths, and fairy tales, Morgenstern's long-awaited second fantastical novel (following The Night Circus) delves into a vast subterranean library, the Harbor on the Starless Sea, a giant, maze-like, subterranean library where all languages are comprehensible to everyone, and time moves differently. Its wonders include moving statues, edible stories, and a sea made of honey. Narrative-obsessed grad student Zachary Rawlins happens upon an old, authorless collection in the campus library. Among the tales of an improbable land of books and their devotees is an anecdote from Zachary's own childhood, a time when he found a magical door but chose to walk away, disbelieving. Desperate to understand and longing for a second chance at adventure, Zachary investigates and finds a literary party thrown by a secret society. He goes through a painted door in Central Park and into the Harbor itself, now long past its heyday and mostly deserted. Aboveground, the secret society is trying to close as many doors as possible, hoping to keep the Starless Sea hidden. Aided by otherworldly Mirabel, whose motives and history are obscure, and alluring Dorian, a former society member who opposes the closing of the doors, Zachary works to understand how the Harbor fell into disrepair and what he can do to protect it. He also learns what it means to be not just a reader but a part of the story, and what happens after that story ends. This love letter to bibliophiles is dreamlike and uncanny, grounded in deeply felt emotion, and absolutely thrilling.
Keep your mind wide open
So, I liked this book. But I did have to put it down for several weeks in the middle before I picked it up to finish it again. This book is a storytellers love letter to stories and it doesn’t let you forget it.
However if you can keep an open mind and let go it’s self indulgent use of poetic phrases like “a lost city of honey and bone” there really are elements of magic that draw you in and tug at your childhood fairy tale seeking heart.
Reading the book is much like Zachary’s experience in the book. He is so close to something truly magical but can’t quite touch it. That’s how I felt reading it.
However, all that being said if there was ever a sequel I’d definitely read it.
I loved the Starless Sea because the wildly imaginative and creative “world” was ignited in my mind. I felt a part of that world, and it is one I think many of us would have loved to be real. While the story had some elements that were oddly underdeveloped (like the Owl King)…and maybe took turns that seemed unnecessary, the world created by this book is so fantastic that I could look past that and still love it. I love being sad because a book is over. I know then it was well worth the time.
amazing. this is the sort of book i would NOT want to be turned into a movie congrats erin if youre reading this you blew my mind.