★★★★★ · reviews

The Starless Sea | Review

Title: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Doubleday Books (Penguin)

Genre: Fantasy (fabulism)

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★


The Starless Sea is a literary work of art. All writing is art, but this novel is ART. It is beautiful and captivating and I fell utterly in love with it. I was enchanted by Morgenstern’s wonderful prose, intricate worlds and complex characters, and The Starless Sea is one of my favourite books of all time. It is wonderful and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys lyrical, beautiful writing.

There are so many things that I loved about this book. I am only naming a few or I could be here rambling for days.

Firstly, I loved the humour of this novel. It was such a witty book; it’s full of sarcasm and self-deprecation and I really enjoyed it. There were so many moments where Zachary’s character really made me laugh out loud. I don’t want to spoil anything by giving examples, but I loved the character’s frankness and relatable humour — for me, anyway.

I fell in love with Zachary. He is an adorable, book-obsessed, witty and dysfunctional college student and he sums up the student life wonderfully. Morgenstern really captures the dysfunction mess of a human in a how-am-I-even-an-actual-adult kind of way and it is amazing. He is so relatable and I love him. He is one of my favourite main characters ever.

A side note, really, but there were a lot of cats in this book. I am yet to find a book that would not or was improved by the presence of cats.

The Starless Sea has an incredibly complex narrative structure, which I personally loved but I know it was the divisive element of the novel. The chapter alternate between the main plot and interludes or fantasy narratives. I quickly got used to this format and really loved the idea of fiction stories within a fictional world. I was as invested in some of the fantasy stories as the main narrative; the stories were so magical and incredible and so real. Erin Morgenstern can make you care for a character in less than a page and I became so fully invested in so many of the wonderful characters from these fictional stories within the main narrative.

I raved about it at the beginning but I have to mention the writing again. It is the best. I didn’t know I loved whimsy, lyrical and elegant prose but it turns out that I do. I really do. The book is just a work of art on so many levels and I really want everyone to read it — though I admit it won’t be a book for everyone.

And after all that, there were a couple of things I didn’t absolutely love — but not enough to stop this being my favourite book. The plot builds and builds, but isn’t resolved with the kind of action or battle that I was anticipating. I was a teeny bit disappointed that there was no fantastical battle scene, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I also started to panic through the last 75ish pages as it seemed the book wasn’t going to go where I thought it was but thankfully Erin Morgenstern pulled through and everything was wrapped up beautifully. I think I’ll enjoy it even more when I reread it as I’ll know what’s going to happen.

Have you read The Starless Sea? What did you think? I know it’s a divisive book; it’s either loved or hated. I truly loved it and I now know I want to read more lyrical, whimsy fantasy novels.

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