The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea

A Novel

eBook - 2019
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cmlibrary_melliott Sep 05, 2020

It's been a long time since I was so deeply touched by a book. I love stories and seeing how they reach people across all reaches of time and fate. This is a must-read for people who love stories- telling them and hearing them.

Sep 01, 2020

I loved the “Night Circus” and was looking forward to this ...but this book is totally out there and I couldn’t get into it. This happens rarely, but I couldn’t finish it...too much...

Aug 25, 2020

This is the worst book I have read in the past 5 years. If you have nothing better to do than to waste your time pouring through 500 page of myths, allegories, nonsensical allusions, reading and rereading pages to figure where the story is going for an ending that is not moving, or at least somewhat logical, have at it. I read the whole book, but by page 250, I got tired of where anyone was, who was alive, dead, a person who was real or the moon or some iteration, and I simply got tired of the effort. After that, it was basically endurance that got me to the end, and frankly for no value of literary consequence. The author is clearly a skillful writer, but in this instance for no literary value whatsoever.

Given the hype this book has received, the overall impression to me was a waste of time, an exercise of the author's bizarre imagination that wore thin quickly, and a dramatic letdown to the hype.

Aug 05, 2020

after you get in the groove of what to expect it's a good little read

Jul 22, 2020

Really enjoyed this book. Night Circus was fantastic and I was sure Erin M’s second novel would not disappoint and I was right.
Give this fantasy novel a shot.

Jun 23, 2020

Loved it

I truly don’t know how I feel about this one. My first read of 2020 and I feel like I’m stunned into a kind of awed stupor, because I can’t figure out exactly what just happened and what I just read. Going for 3 stars for the pretty, wildly vivid writing. I just...can’t seem to latch on to much else that I actually enjoyed here.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins once made the decision not to open a door, and now, a grad student studying story and video games, he stumbles across an unmarked book in his campus library. Drawn to its pages, he discovers that he is in it, that his past self is discussed in its pages. He is soon drawn into a world of mysterious doorways, rogue assassins, subterranean libraries, and seas made of substances other than water - but how? How can it be real? For a man who loves stories more than reality, he should know: everything is real because everything is a story.

This sounds so cool, and for the first 100-ish pages, even as far as 200, I was captivated. Who are these people fighting for or against the Harbor on the Starless Sea? Who is Zachary, who is Dorian, who are Mirabel and Simon and Eleanor and do they actually exist?

But then...I got frustrated.

Don’t get me wrong, this is absolutely stunning in terms of writing. Erin Morgenstern is truly a master of language. This is a love letter to reading and stories and escapism disguised as a novel. For those of us who grew up in worlds like Hogwarts and Narnia and Middle Earth, it’s perfectly logical to think that a character would stumble into one of them and never want to leave.

But I genuinely want to know how this is 500 pages when basically nothing happens. And then when it seems like something might actually be solid, grabbable, like a life raft in a sea of honey, it all just evaporates. Where is the plot? What are we reading for? Why is everything so complicated?

It’s like as readers, we’re just supposed to go along for the ride with this one, and for a while, I could. I didn’t hate this, and I know people find meaning in stories like this one because of the experiences they have reading them. But for me, the ethereal nature of the whole thing went beyond fun Alice in Wonderland frivolity to nothing making sense.

I have taken way too many English classes. I can see this becoming a classic, one of those books celebrated for its use of language and its extended metaphors and deeper meaning. I can see it, but I can’t say that I necessarily enjoyed it. I see its merits, but it’ll be one that I will say I’m glad to have read...and leave on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

OPL_RubyJ May 05, 2020

I was excited to read "The Starless Sea" because I enjoyed "The Night Circus" so much. This book achieves the same great sense of place and fantastical atmosphere. It is a story on stories and the wonders they hold. There is also an underground library which is just fabulous.

May 05, 2020

Losing oneself in a good book is the theme of The Starless Sea, an intricately plotted adventure fantasy that celebrates stories, storytellers, and imagination. There are so many threads and layers and metaphors and clues and time shifts, it is hard to keep them straight, but they all come together at the conclusion, which is just another beginning. And yes, it would make a wonderful video game, one of the puzzle and exploration kind.

Apr 23, 2020

what was this about > endless ...finished to finish it... Do not bother!

Apr 18, 2020

I have a tendency to devour books. Read til life gets in the way. This book however, asks to be savored. I enjoyed the the writing, the imagery and the story.
If you enjoyed the Night Circus, you will not be disappointed!

sjpl_DanaLibrariana Apr 06, 2020

I was a big fan of "The Night Circus" so I have been looking forward to reading Erin Morgenstern's new novel, The Starless Sea. It accomplishes it's goal of feeling as if you're going through a video game story with vivid imagery, character story lines, choices with consequences, surreal locations and fantastical beings. For me, it is was an exquisite escape from the coronavirus ridden realities of our current world.

Apr 04, 2020

The most confusing thing I have ever enjoyed.

Mar 13, 2020

Very bizarre & convoluted story, interspersed with fairytales, that all very bizarrely wind up being related. Wondering if the idea of the various doors was inspired by “Being Erica” - that’s what it reminded me of, so if you enjoy this story, you might want to check out that Canadian tv series.
It took me a long time to read this, because I kept having to go back & re-read previous chapters to figure out what was going on. There are very few unimportant details. You might want to start a list of characters & relationships.

AndreaG_KCMO Mar 09, 2020

Magical. And bizarre. But magical like a honey-covered dream.

Mar 01, 2020

I read this for the "Recommend to you by Amazon" part of my 2020 reading challenge. I was in love by page 19. I liked the characters and the entire idea of the doors and the Harbor and I loved all the little literary references through out and I loved the magic and whimsy of it all. I don't normally like short stories but I couldn't get enough of the ones mixed into this book.

Chapel_Hill_SarahW Feb 25, 2020

I really wanted to like this book; I adored Morgenstern's The Night Circus. For me, the plot was hard to follow, and I felt like I didn't know what was happening for most of the book. However, I did love the interwoven stories and narratives. The idea of fantasy bleeding into life is lovely; Morgenstern creates a beautiful world and endearing characters.

IndyPL_SteveB Feb 11, 2020

"Phantasmagoric” -- “a fantastic sequence of haphazardly associative imagery, as in dreams.” That fits this book. Morgenstern’s new novel is not a sequel to *The Night Circus* (which is one of my all-time favorite books) but the writing style and subject matter are familiar. Dreams, magic, interwoven plot lines, time distortion, writing so imaginative yet specifically placed that you almost feel like you are in the book.

Morgenstern tells her tale in a manner similar to *The Night Circus*, jumping from tale to tale, back and forth in time, to build up an overall image that is unclear until the very end, like a trick picture where you only see unconnected bits and pieces, leaving you to guess what the final picture will be. In addition to being fascinated, I was very impressed with her ability to hold the complex plot together and to make every seemingly unrelated story thread become a part of the full tapestry. And of course, sentences that you have never read before. “Then a door catches his eye. A wardrobe overflowing with books has been placed partially in front of it, leaving it half hidden or half found.” You have read “half-hidden” before, but who has paired that with “half-found”?

It’s probably best not to start this until you have some time to dream. A second reading is definitely a good idea.

Jan 29, 2020

Modern Mrs Darcy

Jan 23, 2020

I was a huge fan of The Night Circus when it came out. And thus, became a big fan of Ms. Morgenstern's writing. Very few authors write in such a vivid, poetic way that you can see, hear, touch, and feel what the characters are experiencing.
Although The Starless Sea is equally as vivid and poetic, I have mixed feelings. It is a wondrous story for sure, but moves very very slowly and I felt like I had a hard time keeping track of what was going on- especially in the second half. Like I was missing information that should've already been known to fully grasp the entire tale.
But a solid novel overall.

PimaLib_ChristineR Jan 21, 2020

The Night Circus came out in 2012 and while many liked it, it reached a cult-like *LOVE* status for many readers, and I was among them. So nearly eight years later, when Morgenstern’s next novel, The Starless Sea, was released, I was waiting with bated breath. Could it live up to The Night Circus? Would it succumb to the sophomore slump? And I’m happy to report that while The Starless Sea has some problems, it hits so many right notes, so many more complex notes, while it maintains the magically atmospheric writing of The Night Circus, that it’s a novel well-worth your time. The Starless Sea is a book to savour slowly, a book for those who love to read; it is Paris after dark, and subtle inside jokes. In other words, The Starless Sea was worth the wait.

The novel follows Zachary Ezra Rawlins, an Emerging Media grad student. This means he studies video games and game theory. This is a book about how Zachary finds a book, a door, a friend, and a love. It is also the story of Fate and Time and an underground world of books. It is also the story of Simon and Eleanor and how they find and then lose each other. Mostly, The Starless Sea is a very long love letter to readers. It’s the kind of book I’ll probably buy, even though I love my library, because I want to highlight and make notes in it. In structure the closest thing I can compare it to is Catch-22 with stories inside stories (here literally) and convoluted time lines. There is a lot of writing *about* writing, about what makes a story good, about the transitory nature of printed books, about what it means to love books. At one point Zachary worries, “that who he is, or who he thinks he is, is just a collection of references to other people’s art and he is so focused on story and meaning and structure that he wants his world to have all of it neatly laid out and it never, ever does and he fears it never will.”

There are nods that are direct, like the mention of Zachary returning The Shadow of the Wind to the library, to more subtle, like the party he attends at The Algonquin hotel, or his friend Kat’s journal in which she writes “that’s how the light gets in and all that.” And while these are all those references to "other people’s art," they each felt like a secret handshake, an acknowledgment that we’re the readers who find something deep, sweet and affirming in the stories we share.

Jan 17, 2020

If you liked her first book you will really enjoy this one. It takes time to read as there is so much too take in. You will never look at doors the same way. Also cats and libraries under ground. A great deal of imagination went into the writing of this wonderful story, however I think the ending was speeded up to end the story quickly after dragging it out for so long.

Jan 04, 2020

I loved the first half of this book and found the second half to be tedious, meandering and not very satisfying. She creates a secret world of books and libraries, stories and storytelling, myths and fables, with a myriad of unique setting within this secret world i.e. the starless sea. A discussion of RPGs that gave me my first real understanding of their draw. That the fairy tales she told were wholly original i.e. the moon and the innkeeper, Time and Fate, the Owl king and his domain, is astonishing. The book is beautifully and imaginatively written but the characters were two dimensional, the love stories had no depth and the ending was too drawn out and unsatisfactory.

ontherideau Dec 31, 2019

Fantastic writing and subject matter out of this world- literally.

Dec 29, 2019

Couldn't get into the book because of the writing. When I switched to reading it with television's Closed Captioning voice, that was when I got into it. Not a very nice voice in my head.
I tried to like the book but I couldn't care about any of the characters.

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