Analysis, inspiration, Reading, Reviews

Book Review: The Starless Sea

All vibes, no plot, but, like… REALLY high quality vibes. This book needs to be read in an old creaking library during a thunderstorm as rain and wind lash the windows. This book needs to be read in a musty, high-backed chair in front of a stone fire place with a mug of hot cider at your side. This book needs to be read in a deep forest during the full moon when it’s so bright you don’t need any other light to read by. This book needs to be read under a blanket by flashlight, or in an attic by candle light.

I did not find it to be exhilarating. I did not find myself desperately turning pages to find out what happens next, but I did get into a magical mood as I read it. Very well done and very much recommended.

Paper is fragile even when bound with string and cloth or leather. The majority of the stories within the harbor on the Starless Sea are captured on paper, in books or on scrolls or folded into paper birds and suspended from ceilings. There are stories that are more fragile still. For every tale carved in rock there are more inscribed on autumn leaves or woven into spider webs. There are stories wrapped in silk so their pages do not fall to dust, and stories that have already succumbed, fragments collected and kept in urns. They are fragile things, less sturdy than their cousins who are told aloud and learned by heart. And there are always those who would watch Alexandria burn.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Who’s gonna love it?

Story time: When my wife and I bought this house, the backyard is just all dirt and you know whenever anything got churned up a little bit you know the dog running around or digging around or whatever, regularly I would find these polished rocks and bits of colored glass and things like this. A family lived here before and I like to imagine that a young child buried these as secret treasure in the yard for someone to find later on and in that spirit is this book

Okay, who’s gonna hate it?

So if you’re hoping for a plot-driven story and characters that make decisions that drive the action, you are out of luck. It is all vibes and no plot in the Starless Sea.

And yeah, I think that’s all I really have to say about that.

Part three: did I like it or what did I think of it?

Yeah I actually loved it. I did not read it quickly. It was not the sort of book where I was like “Gosh I can’t wait to find out what happens next!”

That’s just not really the mood of it.

The Starless Sea is an incredibly appropriate and apt book to use for the style of review that I’m doing where I do a section on “who’s gonna love it” and “who’s gonna hate it”, because some people are going to hate this book and for all the exact same reasons that other people are going to love it.

It really is skating a very fine line between just like utterly pretentious “fairy tales are the best and magic is real and your life can be a magical mysterious fantasy world if you only like open your eyes to the beauty and mystery of everyday life” and that same thing but it convinces you and you gain that sense of magic in your soul and you’re like “wow I feel changed by this book.”

Some quibbles that I had: there were parts where the mystery was layered on maybe a little thick and the character, the main character, is just sort of parroting what the reader is thinking, like “what?” and “who?” “what?” “huh?”

Also in the descriptions, which are usually beautiful, a few too many times the author seemed to be like “it was hot and cold” or like “he was mysterious and yet somehow familiar”.

But I felt that overall it really does work. The sincerity of its love for books and storytelling and this idea of magic that is possessible by us even in our modern lives… it shines through and overpowers the criticism that I think some people will have of this story. For me it worked.

If you’re looking for a book that is very cozy and mysterious, and the sort of thing that you should read in the dark, not because it’s scary, but because it’s magical, and more magical things can happen in the dark, then I recommend The Starless Sea.


1 thought on “Book Review: The Starless Sea”

  1. Your review is as fun to read as the books sounds to be. It sounds like something Kahlil Gibran would have written, like his book The Prophet. Thousands of years from now, when i have the chance to read a plotless book, I’ll give it a whirl.

    Liked by 1 person

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