The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern| Fiction 2019


I really enjoyed this book, the second book by the author of the highly successful The Night Circus.

There is a story line, a plot of sorts, though it is loose.  Zachary Ezra Rawlins walks through a door and down into an entire world beneath the surface of the earth, having no idea that a new story has begun.  This inner-earth world is mostly about stories.  Everything and everyone is a story.  There are stories that are people, and stories that are books, and stories that are folded pieces of paper.  While we follow Zachary through his journey in this land of the Starless Sea, we also read many stories.  There are threads that tie these stories together, and there are symbols that appear in all of them.  Swords, keys, and bees are constant friends and mysteries in the stories, but also cats, rabbits, and owls.  And ribbons and lanterns.  And, above all, there are doors.  Doors that open.  Doors that are locked.  Doors that simply appear.  Doors that disappear.  Doors that are drawn.  Doors that are built. This world-beneath-our-world is Alice-in-Wonderland-esque.

To engage with The Starless Sea, you must be prepared to disengage with reality.  I don’t know quite what to call the essence of this book.  Fantasy?  Magic?  Imagination?  And I wonder how she wrote the book and kept it all together ... I imagine she has created a big map of this land that Zachary is exploring, with rooms, and hallways, and caverns, a sea, stairs, characters, and doors.

I haven’t a clue who among you will enjoy this adventure, and who will find it too much of a suspension of reality.  All I can say is I sincerely loved it and am delighted to have read it.

Novel of the week by The Week.