The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the page have become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are.” 

I’ve read Erin Morgenstern’s book The Night Circus several years ago and it was a beautiful experience and it left me longing for more, the experience of reading The Starless Sea was as mesmerizing as it was completely and utterly life changing. I don’t think I will ever ever ever forget this book and that the feeling it left me with I won’t ever get over.

This is the type of book that talks about books, reading, stories, storytelling and all that encompasses the act of creation. As a reader, it touches deeply within your soul and it’s impossible not to feel embraced and understood and completely mesmerised by the words flowing from the pages that seem to connect instantly to your heart. 

The journey of reading this book was amazing to me it was hours that didn’t even feel like hours and I never wanted it to end and in fact I read about 70% of the book in just a week but due to unforeseeable circumstances I had a following week so hectic that I didn’t read a single page and I didn’t want to squeeze-in minutes of reading because this book has those huge chapters that demand your full attention for those reading sessions that you just completely unplug and disconnect from the world and all your attention and devotion become the book in your hands. I wish I could write beautifully about this book because I wanted to make it justice and I feel like I will fall short but I’m trying my best. 

I know that not everyone likes fantasy but I feel like this book transcends that because this talks about stories at its core, and every reader who has ever found themselves inside a story will relate to it one way or another so regardless of that I feel that this book is a book meant to be read by all readers. It is a type of book that is a metafiction because it talks about books within books, stories within stories and it has a multitude of interconnected small narratives and I love this kind of book! It gives me pure happiness to be alive when I encounter these types of works.

Throughout the reading I found myself recalling the time I read The Night Circus even though it was over eight years ago, Erin Morgenstern’s writing it’s very similar to what it was then and for me it is particularly the type of writing that I love. I don’t know if I can describe it properly using the words poetically or lyrically but it’s the type of writing that reads with this transcendental quality to it with a kind of sublime effect to it. It was a writing that was very emotional to me and very touching. With each turn of the page I was kept hungry and longing for more and more and more and never wanted the story to end and I knew that I had found a new favorite for life.

There are so many layers in this story, so many small things to be discovered and cherished and kept inside a tiny box that you can go back to love and love time and time again. It is a story that unfolds slowly and it grows and it becomes something so marvelous and it was mesmerizing. I know there are books about books and about stories and about libraries and all of that and I read them before and will read again but what The Starless Sea managed to accomplish feels sort of engraved inside of my heart and my soul. 

This is also what type of book that is sort of a homage to stories already written. I found some references to famous works like Alice and Wonderland, going through the door that leads to a magical place might elude both to Wonderland and Narnia all together. There are other in-page references to works of literature and I found this to be an intriguing and incredibly done choice for a book that honors stories in such a way.

We have a third person point of view and our main character is called Zachary Ezra Rawlings, but even so there are other characters present in this incredible journey, Dorian and Mirabel are great and I didn’t expect that I was going to love Kat as much as I did. 

The atmosphere is perfect, I pictured it all in my head with such vivid details and clarity that I felt myself walking through these halls feeling the walls against my fingertips, tasting the honey on my lips and hearing the hum of bees, and being completely under the spell of The Starless Sea. There isn’t a single thing I disliked about this book, in fact I love it so many things about it I don’t even know how to talk about all of them. It felt to me like I was waiting my whole life to read this book. I already long to go back to it and I know that I will reread this book again many times in my lifetime. I know that after you finish a story you feel elated and sometimes talk about it with too much emotion but this time it feels really profound and touching and I know that my love for this book is only going to grow stronger. 

This is a story-within-a-story, a story for the storyteller lovers, a story for those avidly waiting for an adventure, a story for those who love intricate details scattered around across the pages waiting for you to gather them, a story for those who love perfectly written paragraphs that will remain forever in your memory, for those who love quotes that speaks so truly about your soul that you cry upon reading them, a story that will change you forever and that will remain with you for your whole life. I hope to once again be able to walk the shores of The Starless Sea.

Some favorite quotes that I must add in here:

“Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. Stories written in books and sealed in jars and painted on walls. Odes inscribed onto skin and pressed into rose petals. Tales laid in tiles on the floors, bits of plot worn away by passing feet. Legends carved in crystal and hung from chandeliers. Stories catalogued and cared for and revered. Old stories preserved while news stories spring up around them.”


“It is a sanctuary for storytellers and storykeepers and storylovers. They eat and sleep and dream surrounded by chronicles and histories and myths. Some stay for hours or days before returning to the world above but others remain for weeks or years, living in shared or private chambers and spending their hours reading or studying or writing, discussing and creating with their fellow residents or working in solitude.”


“A reading major, that’s what he wants. No response papers, no exams, no analysis, just the reading.” 


“Each door would lead to a Harbor on the Starless Sea, if someone dares to open it. Little distinguishes them from regular doors. Some are simple. Others are elaborately decorated. Most have doorknobs waiting to be turn though others have handles to be pulled. These doors will sing. Silent siren songs for those who seek what lies behind them. For those who feel homesick for a place they’ve never been to. Those who seek even if they do not know what (or where) it is that they are seeking. Those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.”


“This is their world, starless and sacred.”


“They have similar elements, though. All stories do, no matter what form they take. Something was, and then something changed. Change is what a story is, after all.”


“If an egg breaks it becomes more than it was,”Mirabel says, after considering the matter. “What is an egg if not something waiting to be broken?”


“Because the sea is where the stories come from and all endings are beginnings.”


“We are the stars,” he answers, as though it is the most obvious of facts afloat in a sea of metaphors and misdirections. “We are all stardust and stories.”


“Endings are what give stories meaning.”

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