Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


Title: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Release date: November 5th 2019

Publisher: Harvill Secker


When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across a strange book hidden in his university library it leads him on a quest unlike any other. Its pages entrance him with their tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities and nameless acolytes, but they also contain something impossible: a recollection from his own childhood.

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They guide him to a masquerade ball, to a dangerous secret club, and finally through a magical doorway created by the fierce and mysterious Mirabel. This door leads to a subterranean labyrinth filled with stories, hidden far beneath the surface of the earth.

When the labyrinth is threatened, Zachary must race with Mirabel, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, through its twisting tunnels and crowded ballrooms, searching for the end of his story.

You are invited to join Zachary on the starless sea: the home of storytellers, story-lovers and those who will protect our stories at all costs.


I don’t really know where to start, but I can say that my thoughts are still swimming from the whimsicality and pure magic that is The Starless Sea. This weird feeling of nostalgia will not leave me, but I cannot place a finger on what it is that triggers it. Maybe a film I’ve seen long ago? A distant memory? A dream? Perhaps all three?

Reading this book is like entering a dream. Just like the main character, you are constantly discovering, constantly learning, constantly trying to decipher what is real and what is not. Morgenstern is giving her readers first-class seats on this extravagant journey that she has so carefully crafted, spoon-feeding us with words of loss and love. Granted the wistful writing and slow pacing of the book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I thought both conventions were done very well  and thus went hand in hand to create an exceptional story-telling tone.

There are many different factors that play a part in this book, namely time and space. There were talks of fables and myths, romantic tales from the past, secret oddities, love, fate. It is a story filled with stories, each unique to one’s own. It feels like you’re reading multiple books at once. You enter all these different worlds and meet so many different characters, all for a short amount of time. It’s magical and nonsensical and wonderful and so so beautiful. The best part is that the main character is reading all these stories along with you, and he actually has thoughts on them too (very meta, but so cool!). It felt so surreal to know that the MC said the exact same things about one of the stories in the book that I wrote my thoughts on! The inception feels unreal (or perhaps Morgenstern is just a genius […most probably the latter..]).

One thing I would like to mention is that there is a very different, yet familiar style of writing that you would expect from the author who created the intricate masterpiece that is The Night Circus. Perhaps it is the modern POV of a college boy that creates this distinction, but so many other aspects of the novel has reminded me so much of why I fell in love with Morgenstern’s writing and and story-telling in the first place. It’s unique and beautiful all by itself, but you can still feel the essence of The Night Circus when you read The Starless Sea. It’s… just beautiful. I’m still at a whirlwind-like state after finishing the novel, which is why I will leave my rating as 4.5/5 stars. However, it strays close to 5 stars just because it was an absolutely brilliant novel that I’ve loved dog-earing and annotating. There are so many phrases in the book that I just felt in awe of. The whole world, the writing, the characters.. just.. impeccable. Please, pick this novel up if you haven’t thought of doing so already! ❤

Thank you SO much Penguin Australia for sending me a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review!

If you’re interested in buying The Starless Sea, you can click here to shop the book at Book Depository. I receive a small commission if you use the link! 🙂


  1. Angelica @ Paperback Princess

    It’s been over 10 years I believe since I read The Night Circus, probably even longer, I can’t recall details but to this day I remembered the feels that this book gave me and I remembered putting Morgenstern’s writing up there with Jk Rowling and Laini Taylor. JK’s imagination and Laini’s poetic writing style.

    I can’t wait to pick this up, I cannot believe it’s been this long since she released another one! I might also reread The Night Circus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cups and Thoughts

      i know right!! i re-read the night circus after about four years and everything is just as vividly magical as i remember it to be. she’s amazing! 🙂 i hope you enjoy the starless sea just as much, if not more! ❤


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