Title: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Contemporary fantasy
Source: Purchased (local bookstore)
One Sentence Synopsis
Zachary Ezra Rawlins, a young college student who enjoys books and video games more than the company of most people, comes across a very real story from his past in an ancient looking book of fairy-tales.
“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”
In my years as a reader, I have come to realize that I absolutely adore a book that can convey my feelings for, well, books! It’s such a hard feeling to encapsulate. It’s a feeling of magic and wonder, but also of comfort and of being home. When a book can eloquently describe that feeling while wrapping me in it’s warm embrace, it immediately ends up as one of my all-time favorites.
The Starless Sea is one of those rare books. I fell into this story completely. I was wrapped up in the drama, I wanted to live within it’s pages! This was basically a love letter to books and storytelling and I fell hard. I loved everything about this book, which makes writing this review hard because I just want to gush for forever but I can’t because… ya know… I have kids and a job. So I’ve decided that I will break this down into a list to attempt to be succinct.
First, the writing. THE WRITING! It was lush and lyrical and made me want to wrap it around myself like a warm blanket. I adore Erin Morgenstern’s authorial voice and it shone brightly in this book. You know that feeling in your gut when a piece of prose strikes right to your core? Where it feels like a line in a story was written specifically for you? Yeah, that happened a lot as I read this book. The phrasing in this book was gorgeous. The descriptions painted entire landscapes in my mind. This was beautifully written and I can’t wait to re-read it. Which is saying a lot because I generally don’t re-read books!
Second, the characters. Zachary is me and I am Zachary. Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve connected with a character this strongly! And, again, that’s another testament to the author. I was immediately invested in Zachary’s story and I loved watching his journey as he discovered the underground library. This book made me feel so many feelings as I watched his growth. I wanted to give him hugs when things were difficult, I cheered when things worked out! And, I’m not gonna lie, I was just as confused as he was for most of this book, lol. I also loved that the secondary characters were equally fleshed out and I felt just as invested in them.
Third, the tales! There are several books within this book and I adored them all! The little vignettes were written with such a beautiful, fairy-tale vibe that I felt transported, like I was living in them! I could have read an entire book of just these whimsical stories. My favorite thing about them, though, was the parallels drawn between our tales and the story of Zachary. Pondering whether these tales are actually real or just a guide for our intrepid hero makes it that much easier to fall down the rabbit hole that Morgenstern has created.
Okay, my dinner is ready, the kids are bickering… basically real life is telling me to wrap this up. Soooooo….
Final thoughts: The Starless Sea is not just a book about books, but the love of books and storytelling. It’s not just a story, it’s a journey that you are more than willing to go on. It’s lyrical, whimsical, and just pure magic.