Name: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Number of Pages: 498 (Hardback)
Published: November 5th 2019 by Harvill Secker
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.
Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
The Starless Sea. Where to begin talking about this one? It’s a beautiful mixture of tales within books within a book – mystical, magical and meandering, snippets and glimpses of magic and wonder all held together within the main narrative of Zachary Ezra Rawlins, who finds Sweet Sorrows, a mysterious, previously un-catalogued book in his university library.
Captured by the tale of the pirate and the girl, and the tale of the acolyte, Zachary reads on to be confronted by an incident from his own past concisely captured in a volume much older than he is…
So begins the quest for the truth of the Starless Sea, a fantastical place of stories and dreams and tales, guarded, nurtured and revered by those who know of its existence.
From the literary themed masquerade, to stories whispered in the dark of Time falling in love with Fate, there is magic within every page of this charming tale, and the writing is something to savour. I really took my time reading this, to enjoy every word, whilst at the same time being so intrigued that I just had to read on.
The main characters holding this tale together are a wonderful mix.
Zachary is a reader, a dreamer, and brave when confronted with such strangeness.
Then there’s the enigmatic Dorian, and Mirabel, the pink-haired painter who can create doors into this magical world of stories.
Characters within some of the stories are intriguing too – the pirate and the girl, and Simon and Eleanor, the man who fell in love with the moon. I could go on….
It captures perfectly the magic and escapism of a great read, the wonder of a fantastic tale. If you’re looking for a fast paced, driven narrative this may not be the book you’re after right now, but for something to lose yourself in, that paints so many vivid stories and ties them in with a magical mystery quest for a world of stories and books, give it a try. I loved The Starless Sea from beginning to end.