Friday, January 24, 2020

Book Review 2019 #3 - Erin Morgenstren's The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019
Format: Hardcover, 512 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy

When he was young Zachary Ezra Rawlins found a door. Graffitied on the side of his home. Appearing overnight and painted over by the end of the day. He did not go through it and did not tell anyone about it but over the years wondered what would have happened. Therefore it comes as a shock when perusing the stacks of his school's library during winter break that there is a book with his story in it. This impossibility leads him on a hunt that will forever change his life. A hunt for a bee, a key, and a sword. A hunt that leads him into the cross-hairs of warring parties. At a literary themed masquerade at the Algonquin Hotel in New York he meets the players who will lead him down his path. Mirabel, the painter, and Dorian, the storyteller. But this path doesn't come without dangers. Far beneath the Earth there are tunnels and rooms and each and every one of them is filled with books and stories and adventures to be had. But they are all in danger. This subterranean world was once alive and vibrant and here Zachary Ezra Rawlins has finally stepped through the door into a magical world in it's death throes. What would have happened if he had arrived earlier? What will happen now that he's here? Can he save the library with his new companions or is it all lost before his adventure has really begun?

The Starless Sea is an ode to books and book lovers and all forms of stories. The plot twists and turns and is a complex puzzle waiting to be solved. A quest for the reader and for Zachary Ezra Rawlins. When you reach the end it becomes a beginning and it almost feels necessary to turn back to the first page and relive all the adventure and heartache. There's something nostalgic about it, it harkens back to well loved movies and books and even video games. There's more than a dash of The Neverending Story, and Labyrinth, and The Magicians, and and and a million other books and adventures I loved as a kid and adult. Though I have noted the discontent in some readers who were expecting a new iteration of The Night Circus. At first I to was hoping for that and while The Starless Sea is definitely not that it's so unique, so it's own thing, that I love it for what it is and the work you put in to understand and follow what is happening is justly rewarded. Books shouldn't be easy. Books should make us think, challenge us in ways we didn't expect, take us on an epic adventure that makes us realize why we fell in love with stories in the first place. I fell into The Starless Sea and don't care to be rescued.


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