Looking for the perfect gift for any book-lover? Here you go.
There is something incredibly beautiful about a book that is, at its very essence, a love letter to stories and their readers. For,
“We are all stardust and stories.”
The Starless Sea (like the pirate in the story) is a metaphor but also still a story. A metaphor, because each reader possesses a key uniquely their own with which to unlock a story’s door, finding a story world that is uniquely their own by virtue of individual experience. By accessing the world, the world becomes the reader’s. In the very act of reading, a reader creates alongside the author. A fact seldom more celebrated than within the pages of Erin Morgenstern’s latest, The Starless Sea. A book filled with metaphors and also still very (corporeally) real and so not a metaphor at all.
The Starless Sea is one of those books that will invariably make you think — a lot. About the structure of stories. About yourself. About the mysteries at the heart of the Starless Sea. About bees and keys and swords and crowns. It is, however, also a story that can simply wash you away with its beauty. The beauty of its words formed into sentences and sentences formed into concepts. There are stories within stories contained within the Starless Sea, each intricately connected, each building to the mystery and its eventual unraveling. You can choose whether to lose yourself within an individual story. And then you can lose yourself within the entire honeycomb. It’s a very Alice-like experience, much like our main character Zachary Ezra Rawlins himself notes.
“Do you want to know the secret to surviving once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole?”
Zachary nods and Mirabel leans forward. Her eyes are ringed with gold.
“Be a rabbit,” she whispers.
With the power of story so strong here, it takes an incredible character to leave a mark. Zachary Ezra Rawlins (never Zach), is such a character and one who will invariably claim a piece of your heart. An introvert and an Emerging Media grad student with a psychic mother and absent father who has had one too many bad relationships, Zachary’s received his (totally unfair) share of life’s one-two-punches when he stumbles upon Sweet Sorrows among the stacks of his school’s library. Inside the book, Zachary discovers himself — that is to say, a story about himself. The story of a boy desperate for something magical who once left a door unopened because …
“…part of him decides he is being childish and that he is too old to expect real life to be like books. Another part of him decides that if he does not try he cannot be disappointed and he can go on believing that the door could open even if it is just pretend.”
There is an innocence to Zachary as he experiences his own story within the story, an innocence and vulnerability that make him incredibly relatable.
And because (I posit) at the center of every great story is love (either the fight for love or love gone wrong, love of power, or some variation thereof) you will find love here too, the romantic kind, and one of the sweetest, most subtle romances at that.
One of the best books I have read to date, period. A must read.
Book: The Starless Sea
Published: Random House
Publication Date: November 5th, 2019