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Our Discussion of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea. Goodreads.

Below are a sampling of our comments:

  • I do not know what is happening
  • I got more out of The Night Circus, especially after reading it 2-3 times
  • I loved the writing so much – she has such a way of creating pictures in your mind with lovely language. I tried to slow down and think about it and got much more out of it the second time through
  • I would like to break it into threads and just read Simon and Eleanor’s story, and then the Sun and the Moon, Mirabel, etc.
  • The audio used different voices for each thread which helped
  • The writing and setting were beautiful but the plot was lacking
  • For a book about stories, I wanted more story
  • I liked the Calvin and Hobbes reference
  • The story had to end to begin again – there were some deep themes
  • This was the book I needed right now – the different threads reminded me of classical music with a run of notes and themes, similar to the Danube Wave Cake (thanks, Ed!)
  • There were so many bees – what do they mean? Also the cats – what was their role?
  • I liked that pop culture references had as much weight as Shakespeare references
  • It was great how sexuality and gender were just handled matter-of-factly with no angst, and the love stories had lots of diversity
  • “The Celestial Hare is not a bunny!”

Please add any additional thoughts or comments you have about The Starless Sea. We gave this title the codes QUE, AGE, LIBN, MYT, LIT, FEM, CATS  with an average rating of 4.5.

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