book reviews

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Publication Date: November 5th, 2019

Rating: 3.75-4/5

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.


Thanks to Libro.Fm for this ALC! I received this through the ALC program but this does not affect my review.


How do I even explain this listening experience? I’m so glad I listened to this because it was such an immersive experience! I really hope I can listen to it again but while also reading along so I can catch extra details and experience the story in a different way! This would definitely be one I would re read because I know I’ll notice new things every time!

I really liked the narration of this novel, especially because the different stories were narrated by different people! Of course, I got really attached to Zachary’s narrator, but I also enjoyed the narrator for Eleanor’s story!

I went into this story not knowing anything at all except that a lot of people were excited about it. I haven’t read The Night Circus so I had no experience with the author at all but after this experience I’ll definitely have to read that too!

I almost DNFed it because the first two chapters were so random and strange and I didn’t understand at all what was happening but then we were introduced to Zachary who finds a mysterious book that turns out to have a story with him in it! (This is not spoilery since it’s in the synopsis) After that, I was hooked. It was so cool to have stories within stories and the way it was told was slightly confusing but also really fit the vibe of the plot. Zachary was thrown into this whole adventure just because of a book and so was I! It was funny to see Zachary end up doing all this crazy stuff without ever really knowing what was happening–like, same, buddy.

At some point in the middle I found myself getting a bit frustrated because as soon as I thought I was started to piece together the story, something would shift and I’d be thrown back into not knowing. It didn’t really help that Zachary also didn’t know anything and since we’re following him the majority of the time, well… we’re in the dark a lot. HOWEVER, I think that also made this story really unique and interesting.

The reason I didn’t rate this as 5 would just be because I kept waiting for answers… and a lot of them just never came. The ending took me by surprise and filled me with happiness and anger and frustration. BUT, it was an amazing and addicting story that I would definitely read again!

If you enjoy magic, the power of storytelling, getting sucked into an adventure that you really didn’t plan to be a part of, secrets, libraries, and cats this would definitely be something for you! I would recommend this to anyone who believes in doors even when they aren’t real, searching for answers that seem impossible, a bit of life threatening moments, puzzles, and a sprinkle of romance!

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