The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern

 
The Starless Sea
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The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern

The magical new novel from the bestselling author of The Night Circus.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library 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 a subterranean 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 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. 

Review

Erin Morgenstern’s award-winning debut novel The Night Circus is one of those wonderful books that swallows you whole, rendering the world of a magical carnival in such vivid prose that you can almost taste the caramel corn. Eight years after its publication, Morgenstern has finally returned to our shelves with the release of a new novel far more ambitious in scope, but every bit as absorbing as its predecessor.

The Starless Sea begins with several snippets of story: a pirate waiting for death, an acolyte who trades her voice for a secret, and the son of a fortune teller who finds a mysterious door … and doesn’t pass through it. The last is Zachary Rawlins, a shy university student who is astonished to find one of his memories – one that he’s never shared with anyone – written within the pages of a book. Determined to uncover the truth behind the uncanny coincidence, Zachary finds himself on a journey that takes him to a vast subterranean library that’s such a jealously guarded secret that it is falling into oblivion. Along the way, he meets the enigmatic Mirabel and the captivating Dorian, both members of a shadowy organisation tasked with protecting the world of the Starless Sea.

At nearly five hundred pages, The Starless Sea is a dense read that weaves Zachary’s story with an array of seemingly disparate fairytales, fables, memories, and journal entries. As the book continues it becomes clear that the texts are linked, and gradually a single powerful narrative emerges. An ode to reading, to stories, to books, to memory, to secrets, missed opportunities, second chances, fate, love, and hope, The Starless Sea is a beautiful tale that rewards patient readers with a magical world from which they’ll emerge, blinking, into the light.


Lian Hingee is the digital marketing manager for Readings (currently on maternity leave).

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