The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (book review).

November 19, 2020 | By | Reply More

‘The Starless Sea ‘is the much anticipated second book by Erin Morgenstern.

What would you say if I told you there were magical doors all over our world that lead to an enormous library on the shores of something called the Starless Sea? Or that you might just be drawn to one of these doors down a dodgy alley or on the face of a cliff? What about if you might be able to find yourself written into the pages of a book found on a dusty library shelf? I’m going to guess this is tempting as a book premise, am I right? Maybe I can tempt you with some cats, a secret society and a mystery to solve, too? Now you’re ready to start reading ‘The Starless Sea’.

I loved Morgenstern’s first book and was really excited to get my hands on a copy of ‘The Starless Sea’. It sounded right up my street. I mean what’s not to love about hidden doorways, an infinite library and a mystery. However, I have to say that although I enjoyed it I didn’t find it as engrossing as ‘The Night Circus’. I found that all these elements, while they sounded interesting, have actually been done before and possibly better in other books I’ve read. They are done well here but I think I found having so many of these elements got a little overwhelming and confusing.

There is a definite writing style in this book, by that I mean it feels like you’re reading something like a fairy tale but not quite. The story feels at once comforting but also unsettling, like you’re in a gorgeous little fairy village but if you make the wrong kind of deal with that goblin then you’ll be turned into a frog. But at the same time as knowing that bad things might be just around the corner, you want to keep reading because it’s all just so beautiful. You will find yourself starting to read for a few pages but then emerge after a good few hours having enjoyed yourself but with no clear idea what you read or where the story is going.

Alongside the main story, there are lots of little meta-stories which are entertaining as you go along but then make much more sense towards the end of the book. I really did enjoy each of these little myths and fairy tales and think Morgenstern would be an excellent short story or novella writer given these little snippets. I could definitely read lots more of these little stories, more so than another giant novel like ‘The Starless Sea’.

Overall, I did enjoy reading this book but it wasn’t what I expected so I think I missed out on a lot of the finer and deeper detail. I loved the way it was written, but I just wanted a clearer plot.

Sarah Bruch

November 2020

(pub: Vintage Books/Penguin, 2019. 498 page hardback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-91070-145-4)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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