book review; The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

4/5 stars

This is a standalone by Erin Morgenstern, the author of The Night Circus.

I listened to this playlist while reading

From Google books,

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world—a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

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.


  • It’s so beautifully written, I have to stop reading somehow just to mesmerise and appreciate the beauty words by words in this novel.
  • The strange magic system, the setting of world building and also lots of myths and folklore (stories within stories) are the very core that make this book truly special.
  • The main character’s development is really good (*clears throat* Zachary Ezra Rawlins), from his very essence of fear and layers of personality been challenged to the very limit throughout the novel. What he stood for, what he believes in. Same goes to the other supporting characters (Dorian, Kat, Eleanor, Simon) .
  • Interesting third point of view perspective, I love all small quirks and awkwardness of Zach that make him much realistic and felt so close to the reader.
  • Dynamic relationship and dialogue (my favorite will be between Mirabel and Zach)


  • Slow pace (really slow), it’s Erin’s way. I read her previous work, The Night Circus. This kind of pace needed because it’s the fundamental to build such a vast universe squished into one book and it’s a character driven one. If you’re more likely a person who enjoy plot driven story, you might get bored easily and end up DNF-ed.
  • Because of stories within stories concept, it will be a heavy read to digest the words constructed like poetry verse itself and to dive into all the myths and folklore.
  • The cannon ship in this novel felt a bit lackey because it was loosely written and too rushing (*spoiler alert* Zach and Dorian).
  • So many left unanswered, for this is a story that going to leave you wandering and keep coming back even after you have finished the book. THIS IS NOT REALLY A WEAKNESS THEN.

An appreciation to the author, Erin Morgenstern

She is one of a kind author that could weave magic in words like breathing air. Her previous book, The Night Circus, left me in awe with the beauty of story. I couldn’t remember well how the book went, but I will never forget the feeling I had while reading it. It’s that satisfaction that feeling makes you so glad you’re born in this time to be able reading this pages of words. And I think, even with this 4 stars I gave, it will haunt me the way The Night Circus did. (Based on my experience, majority books that I rated 4 stars still haunt me. It’s not because the story isn’t as good as 5 stars but it just left me wanting more, and I needed more). My rating is obviously couldn’t be trusted at all *sigh*.

2 thoughts on “book review; The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  1. This book sounds like my type of reads what with the slow pace and literary writing. Thank you for your detailed review!


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