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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Starless Sea

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐

"Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the 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 an ancient 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 of 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."


The Starless Sea is a standalone fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern, the author behind the wildly popular The Night Circus.

Having tried to read The Night Circus twice and ultimately putting it down, I was hesitant about giving this a try. I find that a lot of people thought this was hard to get through, but this worked so much better for me.

It took a bit of time for me to get into it because of the format, but once I did I quite liked how the format alternates between the actual plot with the main character and stories about the world of the Starless Sea. It was interesting to read about a book with stories within stories. It was interesting to see how all the different stories slowly started to connect with each other as you read on.

Things kind of got a bit weird once you got to the Starless Sea, but the ending was satisfying enough without leaving you feeling like something was missing. I also liked that there was a M/M romance since I didn't realize there was one in this so that was a nice surprise.

If you go into this expecting something like The Night Circus, then you may be disappointed with what you find. But if you like fantasy books that are a bit more on the whimsical and strange side with a lot of layers, I would give this a try.

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