It feels like it’s been a lot longer than it has since I finished this book. But it’s been long enough that I feel like I’m playing catch-up still and that I’ve forgotten most of what I wanted to say originally.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
My Edition: Signed Hardcover – 498 pages – 2019 – Doubleday – ISBN: 9780385541213
This is the story of Zachary Ezra Rawlins and what happens when, as an adult, he gets a second chance to go through a magical door he turned away from as a child. This is a story of an underground library and the stories that were born there.
Y’all, I’m not gonna lie…I waited too long to review this book and didn’t take good notes. I had a bunch of tabs for things I talked about with the gals I buddy read this with, but they’re not really conducive to a typed review.
So I’ll just say, I really loved this. It’s a five-star read for me and that is based on two factors: I actually cared about the lead character and his love interest, and, as with Night Circus, this book is SO DAMN IMMERSIVE.
My issue with Night Circus is that I’m in it for the circus and I really don’t give a fuck what the characters do. It’s still a five-star read for me though, because I truly feel transported when I read that book. Starless Sea was no different…for the most part. In general, this is a book I can imagine with all my senses. I really felt like I was on the adventure with Zachary (never Zach!) and I was glad to be there with him because I like Zachary!
He’s awkward and relatable. Like me (minus the relatable)! I also appreciated that Zachary often felt out of place in the magical world he suddenly found himself in – as a regular adult I often feel like if I had the opportunity to go through a door, I’d take it, but I’d be saying “what the fuck?” the entire time. There was that disbelief from Zachary that made him real. Just because one wants to believe magic is real, doesn’t mean they’d take everything at face value and throw themselves into everything headfirst with no sense of confusion or disbelief. “You’re a vampire” ringing any bells? Anyway, Zachary acted mostly like I think I’d have acted in a similar, magical situation. Also, the sexual tension in this book really did it for me.
The other bit about the book I really enjoyed where the fable-esque interludes. There are little books within the main book that tell fantastical stories that may or may not be related to the overall story. I know they weren’t working out too well for a fellow buddy-reader of mine, but I liked them.
Also here are some quotes I like:
“ ‘Would you like to dance?’ she asks.
Say something suave, a voice in Zachary’s head commands.
‘Sure,’ is what his mouth comes up with, and the voice inside his head throws up its arms in disappointment…” (Yes, that’s me.)
“Dorian smiles and Zachary wonders how you can miss someone’s smile when you’ve only seen it once before.” (Ok, how friggen romantic is that?!)
This book is not without its flaws, however.
Is the book too long? Yes, it could have used more editing.
Is it metaphor heavy? Yes, and I’m too dumb to understand them all.
Is it tiring that every Zachary chapter opens with his full damn name? Yes!
Is the end muddy and too dream-like for my personal tastes? Yes.
But if, like me, you enjoy Morgenstern’s writing style and how immersive Night Circus was, I think you’ll at least enjoy the library and the sea, if not also the characters. I was happy to find myself invested in the characters this time around. I think no matter what Morgenstern writes in the future, she’ll always be one of my favorite authors based on her ability to really transport me when I read her work.