Friday Reads · On My Bookshelf · Reading · Reviews

Friday Reads: The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern



Goodreads Summary:

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.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

First line:

There is a pirate in the basement.

Quote from page 56:

He takes off his watch and shoves it in his pocket after glancing at it four times in the space of three minutes.

He is not sure why he is so anxious.

He is not entirely certain what he is going to do when he gets to the party.

He doesn’t even really know what the woman in the photograph looks like. There’s no way of knowing whether she will be there this year.

But it’s the only bread crumb he has to follow.

Friday Reads

My thoughts:

There are so many quotes I love in this book. I’m considering whether it would be better to take a highlighter to my paper copy, or to buy an ebook copy also so that I can highlight that version.

I’ve said this before on Goodreads and other people’s reviews, but one note about this book: it is not for everyone. Even if you think the concept sounds good, you might not like it. The book is very loosely tied together for most of it, and if you pay attention and are used to unraveling story mysteries you will be able to pick out one or more of the plot directions before you get there. (I can’t really call most of them twists.) I personally did connect with Zachary (the MC), but this is much more an atmosphere-driven book than a character- or plot-driven one.

So, yeah. I really liked this book, but your mileage may vary.

Rating: ★★★★★

(a link to my full review is here)

14 thoughts on “Friday Reads: The Starless Sea

  1. Uh oh, sounds like an infestation of pirates. Once those buggers get in your house, it takes some serious extermination before you’re free of them. I know a guy who’s brother went to work with someone who got pirates in their basement. He said it took them over a year to clean the mess up! I think they ended up having to use cannons? What a mess, right?

  2. Interesting! I’ve seen a lot of reviewers that were disappointed. But with you saying it’s atmosphere driven- i thought The Night Circus was pretty atmosphere driven too (although I guess the plot there was magic competition).

    1. I’ve seen several disappointed reviews, too. And I can see why: it’s even more atmosphere driven than The Night Circus, and you’re left with a lot of unanswered questions. However, if you like the kind of book you can (and should!) stroll through instead of running with (or even marching along) I think this could be a book you’d enjoy.

      I mean, there is a plot in this book. But it takes a backseat to first the atmosphere, and then the characters. And the setting *is* a character, and so the plot is really, REALLY not the focus of this book.

      1. That’s pretty cool! It could have a lot to do with expectations and such too. I think people expected a lot of Morgenstern because The Night Circus was so well loved and she did something different.

        1. I would agree with that! Also, while there is a love story (or five) in this story, it is not anywhere near the focus of the plot at all. In The Night Circus, the love story kinda wove through everything. Anyone expecting that kind of experience won’t get what they’re looking for.

          1. I actually don’t mind romance or a love story, even if it’s the central plot. I’ve figured out I don’t like when they are shoehorned in because it’s somehow been deemed necessary (like in a lot of popular YA). I think I’d actually prefer it was the central plot as opposed to a side thread.

            Regardless- I’m happy to see someone liked it because I still wanted to try it!

          2. Oh agreed. If there’s a love story I want it to be important, not added just because. Sure, it doesn’t have to be the central theme of the story, but it needs to have a reason.

            I really liked it! I hope you can find something to enjoy in it, too!

  3. I’ve been wanting to read this book! I never read A Night Circus, though, and I know the two aren’t related, but would you recommend I read that one before this?

    That first line is just … *chef’s kiss*. I will always show up for pirates. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed it, and your little caveat almost makes me even more excited to give it a try. It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    1. This one and The Night Circus are so unrelated that I’d say read whichever one interests you more first. (Or if you own one and not the other? Read the one you have.) They’re a similar style, but still very different.

      I really love that first line. Though pirates aren’t a big focus of the book, don’t expect many pirates. There are so many great quotes, though. Enough to make up (in my mind) for the lack of pirates. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.