The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern   Pages: 494    Published: 2019

The book: Zachary Rawlins finds an unusual old book in his university library. The book captivates him. Strangely, it contains a story that is about Zachary when he was a child. Fascinated, he sets out to solve the puzzle that appears to be contained in the book. This quest will take him to strange and amazing places where he will meet unusual and sometimes dangerous people. Secret societies, magic, and alternate realities abound!

You might like it because: Morgenstern conjures up a mysterious, wonderful and fantastic world. Her descriptions of her characters and the worlds they inhabit or travel through are so detailed and vivid that, at times, reading feels more like watching a film.

What did other people say?
“A page-turner. . . It’s unlikely [The Night Circus fans] will be disappointed by this sweeping follow-up, which unfolds an epic romance within a secret underground world of lost cities, handsome pirates and endless puzzles to be solved.”
                                                             — Entertainment Weekly

“This love letter to bibliophiles is dreamlike and uncanny, grounded in deeply felt emotion, and absolutely thrilling.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Awards & Recognition:
New York Times Bestseller
TIME Must-Read Book of 2019
An NPR Best Book of 2019

How quickly will you get into the book? The book has an intriguing start and by the bottom of page six, as a book lover, there was no going back. I had to read to the end.

You might not like it because:
While Morgenstern’s fantastical world is wonderful, for a large part of the book the plot is unclear. At times the reader may think they’ve glimpsed it, but then the story takes a different turn and they are left once again in the dark. Morgenstern’s world may delight some readers but others may not enjoy this rudderless reading.

What might you read next?
At the beginning of the book one of the character is reading a Raymond Chandler novel. She says that The Big Sleep is her favorite. Read it and see what you think.

Or pick up The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, which also gets a mention in The Starless Sea and it too features a mysterious library.

Alternatively, Morgenstern mentions on her own blog a book called The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow.  She describes it as “a perfect complement to The Starless Sea and vice versa.” Read it and decide for yourself.

© 2020