• Brandie June

The Starless Sea - Book Review

“We are all stardust and stories.” – The Starless Sea

It was a bit of a quest getting my copy of The Starless Sea, which seems more than appropriate given this adventure of a story.


Last summer I was working at San Diego Comic-Con. Each year my company has a booth, and I get to work at the convention, selling in the booth and managing various other events, like signing. We were doing a signing in conjunction with our movie releases. I had some time off before I had to go to the signing, and a friend of mine let me know that Random House was giving away ARCs of Erin Morgenstern’s upcoming book, The Starless Sea. I was beyond excited, as like so many others, I loved The Night Circus. I tried to get into line early, but even still, it stretched long past the booth. I waited, trying to be patient, but actually glancing at my watch every few seconds, afraid that I would either be late for the signing I had to manage or I would have to miss Erin’s signing. When I finally decided that I would have to leave the signing line or be late to the one that it was my job to manage, it broke my heart. As I let the wonderful staff of Random House know that I had to leave, I asked if maybe I could still get an ARC copy, since I had gotten in line soon enough to get a ticket. Not only did those amazing people give me an ARC, but also one that was pre-signed. While I would have loved to have met Erin Morgenstern, getting this book was still the highlight of my days at Comic-Con last summer.



Here’s the GoodReads description:


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world--a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.


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.


My precious.

This book was spellbinding in every sense of the word. With a magical underground world of secret stories, it really spoke to those who love books and magic, and deeply wish that there was such a place to lose oneself in. What struck me the most was the gorgeous way Erin builds her worlds, especially in The Starless Sea. The details are stunning, yet unique, and she is one of those authors with a keen sense of addressing all the sense. Her description of smells brings the world to life in a way that made me feel I could have been in one of these magical lands. Another aspect I loved about this book was the ways the stories within in it intertwined and wove together. At first the reader is presented with different stories that follow different timelines, but the further one gets in the book, it is revealed that these stories are not as separate as they first appear. But I won’t say more in order to not ruin any of the delightful surprises and discoveries. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my secret book room.



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