All the stars for Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea

I have a new ‘best book I’ve read this year,’ and it’s this breathtakingly beautiful piece of literature. I believe this is also now one of my top ten books of all time. I need more stars to rate it.

I enjoyed The Night Circus, but wasn’t totally blown away by it. Still, I have been looking forward to Morgenstern’s second novel since it was announced last year, and I felt like I won the lottery when I got a library copy of the audio on the day after it was released. Dreams really do come true, people! I’d like to thank my library, Overdrive’s lovely ‘recommend’ feature, my friend and constant companion, the Libby app, my mom… 😉

The Starless Sea is a story about stories. It’s a fairytale, and a tribute to storytelling, fantasy, and imagination. Masterfully written in such a way that for the first third of the book, I thought it was just a collection of unrelated tales, interwoven with the experiences of Zachary Ezra Rawlins as he tries to learn more about them. I was just fine with that, because all of the stories were that good. Then, all of the stories started to connect and merge with Zachary’s life, and the really extraordinary magic began.

We experience the stories in small bits, alternating between characters, places, and times, and these tales just flow along effortlessly. But… it’s like a puzzle slowly coming together, and I really had to pay attention to every detail. Morgenstern did not waste words here—everything that happens has meaning and value to the story, right up to the stunning ending.

So many fantastic, whimsical elements: doors that open to a hidden world that seems to run on magic, a literary party in Manhattan full of strange storytelling and people dressed as their favorite characters mingling with famous authors, a pirate and a pirate ship, lost loves, the moon and sun, fate and time, and a whole lot of cats.

The audiobook is beautifully done with some of my favorite narrators. I had to force myself to return it to the library (after listening to many parts repeatedly) so that the nine people waiting can experience this book, too. I’m definitely getting a hard copy for my favorites shelf, and I know that I will reread The Starless Sea many times.

In summary: stories, love, magic, and cats. Someone needs to give this book some awards. It’s perfection, and you should probably read it.


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