Book Review: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern | 3.5 stars out of five
[This review is imported from my previous blog at josieleareads]
It would be a lie to say this book isn’t beautifully written because it is. The descriptions of the places, buildings and attire are done so well, you can see them—feel them even. It transported me to places I craved would exist, and Erin Morgenstern took me there. This book has magic entwined throughout it, and you feel it.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the son of a fortune teller, never opened a door a long time ago. He didn't realise then, that years later he would stumble on a book that has that exact moment written inside of it. From the moment his eyes read the page, he craves the chance to open the door—to find out where the story ends, and what the final chapter of the tale is. It takes him to places he cannot believe exist.
The story itself is wrapped up in smaller stories, a constant collection of ribbon, you as the reader, are to untangle. You're given information in the stories, but to work out who is who, you must complete the main story. The nod to Zachary’s love for games ties in well for this, as each short story aside each of the main chapter stories feels like a side quest. The entire book feels like a homage to stories, to the things we read when we're young, old and everything in between. There are hints at stories, a magicalness that lives between the lines that will pull you in from the moment the story really begins.
Did I enjoy this book? Yes, it brought escapism, a place different than the world around me, and had me thinking—almost questioning how all of the pieces fit together.
But I did get lost sometimes and often, I could relate often to Zachary’s own confusion because of it, and I feel like the ending disappointed me with how well the beginning set up. While Erin did wrap the last parts up beautifully, there was still so much that hadn’t been answered. It almost felt as though another hundred pages or so would have allowed us, the reader, to know how this all began. Either that or I need to re-read it again.
Each of the characters had their own sense of mystery, and I like to think they were purposefully underdeveloped so you were lost in the story as much as Zachary was. All of them hiding their own agendas as if they were playing poker—I actually liked this, but I can imagine for others it would lessen the story.
The beauty of this book is that choice, and fate, have a huge part to play in both the story we are reading and the story in which Zachary is attempting to uncover. At times, the plot though felt like smoke, it’s there in front of you but unwilling to be grasped. The romance wasn’t expected for me, and I’d have loved to have had more of it explored, especially with the way the story ended and the nod to them being “planned” and “fate”.
I’m not sure if I would pick up this book again, whilst I did enjoy the story and the path we were taken on. I quite liked the authors writing style, and enjoyed the picturesque storytelling they’ve perfected. I would, however, recommend this book—I think it’s a delightful read, and maybe some of the parts I feel lacked or confused me can be better explained that way?
Not every story is for everyone, and while I thoroughly enjoyed this, I think this one may not have been for me, but that doesn't mean it isn't for you.