Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, as Zachary embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world.
... extravagantly imaginative ... Morgenstern’s major plot is the stuff of a bibliophile’s dreams, but she layers the narrative with snippets of fables and fairy tales, pieces in a meta-puzzle box that you may never figure out. Authorial flourishes and literary Easter eggs abound, allusions to illusions. There are nods to Tolkien and Sendak, Susanna Clarke and Lev Grossman, Grimm and Gaiman. The intricate world-building is nothing short of fabulous, the prose lush and filigreed. Still, it’s probably no accident that Patience and Fortitude, the lions at the entrance of the New York Public Library, make a cameo in the 500-page tale. Morgenstern knows every whichaway around story and myth, but you may well get lost in The Starless Sea. Bon voyage!
Erin Morgenstern’s new novel The Starless Sea is a beautifully wrought and many-layered tale; a riveting, rollicking, and complex quest for the very heart of story. For those who loved the magical depths and wondrous spaces of Morgenstern’s debut The Night Circus (2011), there is much here in her second novel to entertain and enthrall ... a sometimes frustrating, but often engrossing epic narrative focused on love, magic, and the essential importance of stories to human survival. We are our stories and The Starless Sea is a glorious attempt at reminding us of this ... the excitement and the desire to open a new book and be swallowed whole by story. And that’s what Morgenstern accomplishes with this novel—a reawakening of the desire to be engulfed by story and a reminder as to how story shapes who we are, how we love, and how we live in the world.
... a sprawling, ambitious spell of a story ... Thoughtful, slightly awkward Zachary makes a perfect every-reader, with his desire to take part in stories and his sympathetic nostalgia for the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. Morgenstern delivers more of the lush, lavish prose passages that made readers fall in love with The Night Circus, creating elaborate scenes that include a sprawling dollhouse landscape, a perpetual party set in a pocket universe outside time and an ocean made of honey. In a narrative of enormous scope and scale, Morgenstern takes slow, painstaking care in assembling the story's components behind fairy tale sleight-of-hand. Readers should enter her world prepared to spend a large portion of the experience combing for clues in short, metafictive fables written in a romantic, whimsical style reminiscent of the Flax-Golden Tales on the author's website. While the plot takes its time coming together, the journey is nothing short of magical, like a fantastical, delirious dream that makes awakening back to reality a disappointment. Set aside a few quiet hours to devour this opulent feast.