Book Review: The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

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.

Goodreads

I am about to gush and swoon all over the place (and this might also be a bit stream of consciousness), so be prepared.

That summary from Goodreads does not do this book justice.

The Starless Sea is love stories, and fairy tales, and metaphors, and stories within stories, and stories about stories, and though Fate doesn’t like any of it being described this way, The Starless Sea is magic. It is truly magical.

I find it so hard to talk about books that I fall in love with. It’s so hard to put into words what these books make me feel. Because aside from the writing and the story (stories) being just lovely, The Starless Sea is a feeling. It is a feeling of glowing warmth starting in my center and radiating outward. It is the feeling I get when I have been away from loved ones for a long time and I finally get to be with them and hug them and spend time with them. It is a yearning feeling that comes from wanting magic and magical lands to be real.

The Starless Sea is one of those books that truly sucked me in and made me feel like I was there, following Zachary and Dorian and Mirabel, watching them move through the many stories they find themselves in.

And oh, but what I wouldn’t give for it all to be true, and to find a random, beautifully-painted door where a door shouldn’t be, to open that door and find myself in a Harbor on the the Starless Sea, to become an acolyte or a guardian or the Keeper herself. Loving stories like The Starless Sea and wanting them to be real is a bittersweet ache in the center of my chest. As long as people like Erin Morgenstern continue to write stories like these, I will continue to read them and pretend that they are possible, that someone somewhere is living a magical life and I’m happy for them, even if that someone isn’t me and I’m just watching from the sidelines.

Do you understand now how much I loved this book?

Morgenstern borrowed a few ideas and tidbits from other stories to write this one, and I also love those stories. I don’t know if they were meant to be Easter eggs or if they were meant to be more obvious than that, but every time I found one, I smiled.

I don’t know what else I can say to convince you to read The Starless Sea. Stories are meant to be shared and I want to share this one with everyone I know. Of all the books I’ve read and enjoyed so far this year, this one is easily at the top of my list now and I’m quite sure it will stay there. I want to start from the beginning and reread it right now (and I just finished it fifteen minutes ago).

But this is not where their story ends.
Their story is only just beginning.
And no story ever truly ends as long as it is told.

Thank you, Erin Morgenstern.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

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