The Starless Sea | Erin Morgenstern | Review

“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”





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.


Now, first I want to point out that I did not enjoy The Night Circus. It just did not capture my attention, I still couldn’t tell you the point in the book and it just was not for me. I was very reluctant to get into this book due to the experience that I had with her previous book. But I decided based on the hype and the plot of the book I would give Morgenstern another chance and see what she had in store for us this time.

I am so so disappointed. The first 50 pages I really enjoyed, the writing style is beautiful and I was really intrigued by the plot. However my enjoyment stopped there. One thing I cannot fault Morgenstern for is her beautiful writing style. Honestly I have never read such beautifully written books. However this seems to be a problem for me. I just can’t absorb myself in the world, I had no drive to pick this book up and when I did I managed a couple of pages and then I put it back down again as I just was not interested.

The characters in the book were boring. Not one of them captivated me to the point where I wanted to know more of what was going to happen. I had no connection to any of them and just wasn’t bothered about how their story was going to end. It was all too nice for me, there wasn’t really any drama or conflict that may have held my attention for a little bit longer.

Now I don’t know whether this is an exact flaw in the plot itself or the fact that I lacked concentration when reading this book and consistently put it down but again for more of this book I could not tell you what happened. I feel like the actual plot was drained by all the beautiful words on the page and Morgenstern just never really got to the point. It is really difficult to fault this because of how beautiful the writing is, but I think it definitely takes away from some really important things including what the hell is going on. This is something that I also found with The Night Circus. I find myself questioning whether there was even a plot in the first place?

I don’t even want to discuss the romance. What even was that? There was no development or connection it was just thrown at you from out of the blue and you literally just don’t understand what is going on? I actually nearly put the book down for good at this point because it just didn’t make sense. But then once it is announced to the reader it is forgotten about again as if it was almost a mistake in the book? Look I just don’t understand.

The world was fab, the writing is beautiful however the characters are underdeveloped and the plot is pretty much non existent. This could have got away with being a couple of hundred pages less. I would like to add that I am in the minority for this book and you should pick it up and form your own opinion but after The Starless Sea I am done with Morgenstern unfortunately.

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