The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


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 of 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.

I got an ARC at New York Comic Con. On November 6th at The New York Public Library I went to the event: The Starless Sea: Erin Morgenstern with Kelly Braffet. There was also a book signing. If I find some time I will write about that event too.

I bought the hardcover but kept reading the ARC because it was easier to carry and I didn’t want to get the nice signed hardcover dirty.

The Starless Sea was a whirlwind! So much happens and I am still absorbing it all. This story will definitely require a reread at some point. Actually, I plan to listen to the audiobook one day.

At first it seams that the short stories in between the main story are random interludes, but they do connect. There are some things I am still confused about, or maybe they were not answered at all?


Like Dorian’s key that was in his book. What did it mean to him? I don’t think he knew it would be used on Zachary.

I want stories about Allegra that go deeper into her motivations to close all the doors. I want to know more about The Collector’s Club going against The Keating Foundation. I want to know how exactly the Keating Foundation worked to make sure Fate was conceived out of time.

I was totally surprised how quickly Allegra was eliminated from the story. When she died I thought the new antagonist would be The Owl King. But then we learn from Simon (page 372) that The Owl King is not a who but a what. It is a representation of change. So the story becomes one without a villain, so to speak.”

Also, I would love a short story about Simon and Eleanor reuniting.

I loved Kat and her diary. She is so funny. The things that she would say – I felt like that was me. I hope that even though she, Zachary and Dorian are the new Acolyte, Keeper and Guardian of the new Harbor that they can still visit Madame Love.

So many details! Not just about the plot but the settings. Erin really paints an image in your mind and it makes me want to pick up my pencils and draw what I pictured. It is so precise.

I felt the end was dragging on a bit, but also at the same time I wanted more. There are so many stories I can see many possibilities for several prequels.

I truly loved it and will read anything Erin writes.

4 out of 5 Bees.

Favorite quotes:

Page 187 – “Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”

Page 298 – “Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are.”

Page 315 –

a paper star that has been unfolded and refolded
into a tiny unicorn but the unicorn remembers a time
when it was a star and an earlier time when it was part of
a book and sometimes the unicorn dreams of the time before
it was a book when it was a tree and the time even longer
before that when it was a different sort of star

3 thoughts on “The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  1. Pingback: Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (4/5) | Taking on a World of Words

  2. It’s 3:30 am and I just finished the book myself, and had to go back and read a few sections again. I thoroughly loved it, and I love that a few ideas left to our interpretation sent me here. Thank you for providing this great recap!

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