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.
I reckon this book took me a month to read – but am I disappointed? No. The short fact is I just never wanted it to end. The Starless Sea is rich, enticing, beautiful and filling. It’s like a giant piece of chocolate cake – you devour it bit by bit and never want it to be gone. It fills your soul the way a good meal fills your belly. All I wanted was to go back for more. Just like The Night Circus, it sprawls.
‘Everyone wants the stars. Everyone wishes to grasp that which exists out of reach.’
I read The Night Circus almost 2 years ago now, and I’m pretty sure it ended up being one of my favourite books of that year. After that, Erin Morgenstern had a lot to live up to, but she certainly didn’t let me down. She managed to capture the enchantment and magic of her first book and develop an entirely new and just as beautiful world with it. My major love for Morgenstern’s books comes from her development of world. I have never before felt so enveloped in a place, a world, as her writing makes me feel.
‘To hold the extraordinary in their hands and keep the remarkable in their pockets.’
This book could easily be my desert island choice – simply because I imagine it would give more and more with every read. I could find something between the pages again and again, delving into this deep, whimsical, haunting world happily every time.
The beautiful Starless Sea reminded me why I adore reading so much. It transported me away to another land, and I love it for that. Morgenstern’s writing is so enticing, I felt like I was reading a beautiful fairytale.
This book is stardust. Savour it.
5 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽