Books, My Bookshelf

CJ Reviews: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

BookReview.TheStarLessSea.200130Title: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 stars

“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.”

It’s been a very long time since I’ve reviewed a novel, but I decided to dust of my reviewing skills because The Starless Sea deserves more than just a star rating and a few sentences on Goodreads.

The Starless Sea is the second novel by Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. I confess that The Night Circus is quite possibly my favorite novel of all time, so there’s a chance I may not be entirely unbiased when it comes to Morgenstern, but I did attempt to remain objective when I began reading. (The Time Traveler’s Wife is another one of my very favorite novels, but the author’s second book was very disappointed and I freely admit that.)

I fell in love with this story almost immediately. First of all, this is a book about books and stories and a beautiful one at that. It’s clear early on that Morgenstern was likely inspired at least some degree by Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind – she even referenced the novel early on.

Another reason I almost immediately fell in love with this story was the author’s style. I’ve been trying to determine the best way to describe it all week, but I just cannot put it into words. This novel has a similar voice and style to The Night Circus. It’s magical, and almost ethereal to some degree, and it elicits this emotion inside me that I also cannot describe, but it just captivates me. Even after I put the book down, it was constantly on my mind and my fingers just itched to pick it back up and return to the world Morgenstern had created.

I have this theory, that books are like tuning forks set to a certain frequency, and every once in a while you come across a book that matches the frequency of your soul and it’s magical. That’s what I feel when reading both of these novels – like my soul is humming in tune with the book.

Overall, if I were being honest, I would have to say that The Night Circus is still the superior novel, but this new story is still compelling and beautifully written. It’s told in a style reminiscent of The Night Circus, with snapshots of other stories interwoven throughout. Another observation I found fascinating as I read is that I recall imagining everything primarily in black & white while reading The Night Circus – in accordance with the Circus’s color scheme. But The Starless Sea is full of color.

Without giving away spoilers, I will say that the ending was different, and open to interpretation. (If you’ve already read and would like to discuss, please email me or leave a comment!) I’m not sure I loved the ending; I’m still processing and am considering re-reading the entire book again with the ending in mind. However, I don’t think this took away from the magic and wonder of the rest of the novel. Endings are really just the beginning of something new anyway, right?

Within the pages of The Starless Sea Morgenstern creates a world that I desperately wish I could explore. It’s wonderful and magical and I found myself trying to read it slower than usual so that I could savor every word. If you enjoyed The Night Circus, then I highly recommend The Starless Sea. I have heard many differing opinions on this book, but I really don’t believe fans of Morgenstern’s writing will be disappointed.



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