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A Joy to Read: Try an Extract From The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

November 6, 2019

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Are you lost or are you exploring? 

From the bestselling author of The Night CircusThe Starless Sea is a magical tale of bees, keys and swords; of love and loss across time, and most importantly of story-tellers, story-lovers and the power of the story itself.

When Zachary Rawlins stumbles across an old, strange book hidden in his university library, his life is changed and he starts on a quest unlike any other. The pages of the book seem like short stories, unconnected at first. Tales of pirates and their rescuers, lost cities, nameless acolytes and their sacrifices.  But what shocks him is that the book contains something impossible. One story in the book is a recollection from Zachary’s own childhood. How could something that he lived only within his young lifetime be in such an old book?

Determined to solve the puzzle of the book, Zachary follows the clues he finds on the cover – a bee, a key and a sword. They lead him to a masquerade literary ball where he starts finding answers, but also more questions. These questions take him further to meet the mysterious, pink-haired Mirabel and the dashing Dorian, a man with seemingly shifting alliances, and finally through a doorway. A magical doorway that leads to a hidden, underground labyrinth full of stories, tunnels, ballrooms and secrets. A place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time and of stories whispered by the dead.

When Zachary learns that this curious place is under threat, he realises that he needs to discover his purpose, both in the mysterious book and in his own life, and solve the puzzle of the book before it is too late.

The Starless Sea is almost a book within a book. You get to read the snippets of stories from the book that Zachary finds in his library, interspersed with the actual tale of Zachary’s adventures. But the further you read, the more you realise just how intertwined the stories in Zachary’s book, and the story of The Starless Sea are entwined. Morgenstern has skilfully placed each chapter, leaving tiny breadcrumbs of hints and clues that will eventually come together to create the wonderful, full picture. Her vision for this story is truly a wonder, her talent for writing completely masterful.

The Starless Sea is an enchanting read. You fly through the chapters without realising how quickly you are reading. It’s a tale of just how powerful our stories are. There are some wonderful statements made about stories, including “Books are always better when read rather than explained.” I found this to be increasingly true with this particular story. It can often be hard to describe just why a book is so wonderful, until someone else reads it. This is definitely a book that you will want to read and then push feverishly into the hands of your friends. It’s one of the richest and most fulfilling stories I have read in a very long time. A fully immersing joy to read.

Buy a copy of The Starless Sea here

About the author

Erin Morgenstern is a writer and artist, who describes all her work as ‘fairy tales in one way or another’. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.


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