The Starless Sea
Book Reviews

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern {Book Review}

The Starless Sea is so far removed from the types of books that I enjoy and usually gravitate towards, so this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. It’s definitely a case of #Bookstagram made me do it, because this book has been ALL over Instagram! Who can blame us? The cover is gorgeous….who even cares what the story is about, right?….. Well, at 498 pages, I cared a little….I lie, a lot! So is a pretty cover all there is to this book? Let’s see…….

What is The Starless Sea about?

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 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.The Starless Sea

My Review

Characters and Storyline

The Starless Sea is unlike anything I’ve read before, and as a result, I’m at a loss with how to review this book.

The story centers around Zachary Ezra RawlinsYou will never forget his name, because it is literally used in every single chapter that he is in. Zachary stumbled across a door on a wall when he was 11yrs old, that was his ticket to The Starless Sea. He didn’t know that then, and walked away from the door. Years later he finds a book in a library that appears to have some record of Zachary at that door, all those years ago. Trying to figure out how this is possible, Zachary goes on a search for the truth.

There are many many characters in this book, Dorian and Mirabel, who seemingly want to help Zachary on his journey. We also have Allegra, who may or may not be the resident bad guy (or gal). There is his friend Kat, his mom and then all the characters within the stories.

My thoughts

The storyline is not something I can explain to you. Each chapter is either about the present, or it’s a tale from within The Starless Sea. Initially this can be a bit confusing….you’re reading about a pirate and a servant girl, and then in the next chapter, Zachary. In the next chapter we meet a man lost in time….and then we go back to Zachary. You need to be patient with this story, as in the end it does all come together. It is fantasy, storytelling, romance, time travel….it’s a lot…. As I said, completely out of my depth, but I quite enjoyed the stories within the stories.

Some critique?

I didn’t believe the love story they tried to sell me between the protagonist and somebody who shall remain nameless. It all came out of nowhere for me. Also the book was very descriptive…..closer to the end I just stopped trying to picture this world, because it was like a sensory overload. It was just all too descriptive.

I would have also liked more info on mama Rawlins. Also, maybe we were left hanging in the end….. just a bit….

My rating

The Starless Sea may not be everybody’s cup of tea, let me just say that. When I started reading it, I did think perhaps this was above my pay reading grade! As I got deeper into the book and I understood where we were going, it clicked for me. As I said, I did enjoy the stories, and Simon and Eleanor’s section was my absolute favourite, though I wish we got some more w.r.t their story.

The Starless Sea has a Goodreads rating of 4.04 out of 5 stars. I’m rating it a solid 4 stars too. This isn’t my normal 4 star rating that I assign to a thriller, but as an omage to the amazing story telling and writing skills of Erin, it gets a solid 4 stars from me.

The Starless Sea retails for around R290 (currently R225 on and is available at all leading book retailers.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Penguin Books SA in exchange for an honest review. 

The Starless Sea

I’m Simone, a mom of 3, a wife...obsessed with my family, makeup and books!

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