Book Review

THE STARLESS SEA by Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I really enjoyed Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS, so I was very excited when THE STARLESS SEA was announced. It got added to my endless TBR, but when a friend announced she was scheduling a buddy read for the book over March and April, I finally had an excuse to pick up a copy and read along!

THE STARLESS SEA follows the adventures of Zachary Ezra Rawlins. As a child he discovered a door, but did not approach it and some part of him has been searching for it ever since. In exploring the library, he discovers an odd book that isn’t part of the library’s catalog. Even more odd, the book appears to be telling his own story as it follows a young boy who discovers a door.

Suddenly his life is full of intrigue, with a bee, a key and a sword being symbols that keep appearing. He is led to another door and a world beneath the one we live in. The place he winds up on the shores of the Starless Sea is full of interesting characters with their own stories to live and to tell.

This is a hard story to summarize and an even harder one to review. I really love Erin Morgenstern’s writing, but it absolutely is not a book for everyone. This is very much about building a world, unique characters and haunting ambiance more than it is about following a plot. Many portions of the novel can be taken as stand alone short stories at the time you are reading them, but they do weave their way into the overall narrative over time.

I am glad that this buddy read encouraged me to take this book at a slower pace because I think this is a story that deserves time. I think it is a story that would hold up well to rereading and that doing so would reveal much more that I missed on the initial read. I really enjoyed trying to think through the various symbols and their meanings. I very much enjoy a well done story within a story as well and that was very much present here.

This is not a book that I would recommend to everyone. If you are looking to have all things answered in the end, this likely isn’t the read for you. Still, it is one that I highly enjoyed!

8 thoughts on “THE STARLESS SEA by Erin Morgenstern”

  1. I really need to read this one! I actually bought two limited edition, but still haven’t picked it up.🙈

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  2. I definitely think this book benefits from reading at a slower pace. I’m hoping to reread it this year and give it the time it deserves!

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  3. I had a very different opinion of this book! But I think you summed it up perfectly, this book is definitely more about the world building and ambience than it is the plot and characters. I had a lot of gripes with it while reading it, but in the end I don’t regret having read it because the world really was that beautiful.

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    1. This one is just naturally going to be a love or hate it book. The author even says at one point that stories aren’t all universally loved and that’s okay which I liked especially knowing the vastly different opinions out there! 🙂

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