The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea – Erin MorgensternTitle: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin Random House, Doubleday Books
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Date Completed: September 2, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Night Circus

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.


THE NIGHT CIRCUS is one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting so long for a new Erin Morgenstern book that I was SO NERVOUS for THE STARLESS SEA! I also have a tendency to hype myself up and sometimes overhype myself for some of my favorite books so it was quite the effort to let myself get immersed in the book and not get ahead of myself! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Morgenstern’s master prose easily wrapped me inside of the pages of this book and I was instantly swept away.

THE STARLESS SEA is basically a love story to books, reading, writing, and anything literary. There are so many amazing quotes about books and literature here that it was easy for me to love on so many different levels, but it wasn’t just about the characters being book lovers. The concept of stories made up this book on a magical level, adding fantastical elements to storytelling in the real world. It’s really kind of impossible to describe but Morgernstern once again nails that dreamy element of magical realism that lets you peek behind the curtain into the magical undercurrent of the normal world. It’s truly mesmerizing and it was such an incredible thing to read.

There’s quite an array of characters in the book, all of which were lovable, really. All of them have their flaws but I absolutely loved following the story of main character Zachary Rawlins. He sort of reminded me of a Quentin-type character (from The Magicians) except not quite as tragic and not quite as… erm… whiny, I guess (sorry, Q. It’s a common complaint). He’s a book-lover, has a studious mind, is a little more reserved, and just has something about him that reminded me of Quentin, which is funny considering I read later on that Erin Morgenstern actually kind of borrowed the concept of the bee-key-sword combination from Lev Grossman and The Magicians!

It’s kind of funny how THE STARLESS SEA seems to leave me wordless and tongue-tied when it’s so beautifully written but it’s slightly indescribable and so hard to review! I think the beauty of the book speaks for itself. I loved the stories within the story that linked back to different stories that represented things in real life which were also magical. (See? Impossible.) Everything just folded back in on itself and connected so perfectly and it was a truly wonderful read.



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Kept Me Hooked On: Bookish magic. Can it really get much better than magic inspired by and revolving around books and stories? I don’t know if it can.
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the ending. There is a point in magical realism books where I have a hard time merging the fantasy and reality and that point in THE STARLESS SEA really came towards the end for me. I just wanted a biiiiit more time to spend with some of the magical elements to really feel grounded with them and know that this was real.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I know that this book isn’t for everyone BUT if you enjoy magical realism or think you might get along with this book, I do highly recommend it! The writing is definitely more etherial.




Review in a Tweet | The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Re-read)

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern! I re-read this book for the first time in FIVE YEARS (oh my gosh, I read this five years ago!?) and to be honest, I had forgotten a LOT of the book, so the re-read was almost like reading it for the first time again. It was funny reading my original review because it was kind of the opposite of what I remember feeling so apparently my thoughts changed over the years!

I wanted to do this review as a tweet because I use to review my re-reads but it ended up being a lot of repetition, especially for books I’ve already loved so much or have re-read multiple times. This is a fun way to keep talking about a re-read fresh even if a tweet review isn’t much of a review at all. If you want to read more thoughts about THE NIGHT CIRCUS, you can check out my original review or see my re-read reactions on Goodreads!

Without further ado, here’s the tweet!


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus – Erin MorgensternTitle: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: September 13, 2011 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Library
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 20, 2012
Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Starless Sea

    The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.


This book is actually really hard to review for me. It took place over such a large expanse of time and I was introduced to so many characters that I’m not really sure what exactly to say about it! I guess if the author wanted to leave the readers mistified, consider it done! I’m kind of in a circus haze and I was in awe of the magical elements of the story and I feel left just a little confused.

The Circus: I simply adored the circus. It was delightful, it was enchanting, it was mysterious and I wish I could have really experienced it. The circus is a place that appeals to all of the senses: seeing the tents, feeling the atmosphere, smelling the gentle perfumes and food wafting through the air – I really wish I could have actually been there! But I did my best to imagine it. Overall, I think I was more interested in the circus itself than the stories of the actual characters!

The Celia & Marco story: I didn’t really fall into the romance side of their story until towards the end of the book. Maybe it was hard to see them together when they were bound from the beginning, but only to remain as opponants. I really did like Celia quite a bit though! I think I didn’t really see chemistry with Marco.

The Poppet, Widget & Bailey story: I actually found this story much more enjoyable than the main one of Celia and Marco. Maybe because we start with Poppet & Widget as children and then see how they grow into adolescents – but then again, we also do that with Celia and Marco. Hmm. I think I just liked this story a lot more. It was simpler. It was less dramatic. It introduced non-magic to magic. And it seemed to have a real future.


First off, I LOVE Jim Dale. I had no idea he was the narrator until I started played the CD and gasped! I was told he also narrates the Harry Potter audiobooks? In which case, I might need to pick those up! Also, he was the narrator in Pushing Daisies.
I actually can’t say anything bad about the audio narration except for maybe that his voice didn’t work quite work for young female… But that’s to be expected!


Celia: I really liked Celia’s character! Even as a tiny 6-year-old, she always seemed like a confident and strong person. I loved how the magic was in her and it was a part of who she was. I was truly impressed by her maturity as well and I kind of feel like that carried part of the tone of the book as well.
Marco: I didn’t really have strong feelings for Marco any which way. He was okay. He had a serious place in the story, but overall I felt like his character took a backseat to Celia as far as magic goes and being Chandresh’s assistant, he didn’t seem to be a strong personality or stand up for himself. I felt like he was kind of a wimp 🙁
Poppet/Widget: I adored the Murray twins! I loved their personalities, their talents, and I really enjoyed the story line that followed them.
Bailey: I loved that Bailey was a non-magic person who seemed to end up belonging in the circus.


Quotes taken from — I couldn’t note page numbers since it was an audiobook. 

“People don’t pay much attention to anything unless you give them reason to.”

“I couldn’t tell the difference between what was real and what I wanted to be real.”


Read it!

This book really was magical! There were a couple slow spots but the audio was really great and I just loved imagining this world in all of its glory.

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