Overview (No Spoilers):
Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus was one my favorite go to recommendations for years, and long before I started The Critiquing Chemist! Honestly, I’ve probably bought at least ten copies of this book as gifts for friends and family over the years for various holidays or birthdays. The Night Circus even made my list of most recent literary works of art. Needless to say, when I’d first stumbled an article this past December hyping Morgenstern’s second novel coming out almost eight years after The Night Circus I was so excited see what The Starless Sea would have in store for readers. Immediately after picking up this read, Morganstern’s eloquent writing style was absolutely evident, with each paragraph growing effortlessly into chapter after chapter of intertwined fates, with the overall effect bordering on a work of art. This novel did suffer at various points from the pace dragging, however these sections were mitigated by an alternating whirlwind of activity, which left the reader often in a bit of a fugue. This confusion jarringly broke the elegant literary spell woven by Morgenstern by forcing the reader to reread the events to make sure the implications were fully understood. That being said, I am in no way complaining because The Starless Sea was delightfully complex, causing me to constantly be mulling over even the most minute of references as every bread crumb proved to be a piece in a much larger, mostly obscure puzzle. Despite having a concrete finale, the ending was not as flushed out as my detail loving self would have preferred, however if I remember correctly, I recall having similar reservations about the conclusion of The Night Circus. What kept The Starless Sea from a perfect rating was the many, many lingering loose ends left at the conclusion of the expansive read. Morgenstern’s characters grew in depth with each chapter, despite seemingly unconnected timelines, especially as people eventually interacted in the most unexpected ways. Characters aside, the foundation for this unique literary world crafted by Morgenstern was fascinating as it created its own history and mystique, with a focus on storytelling and books at its heart. At one point, I remember thinking that I didn’t want this story to end, which is always telling of a great book. I wished to have Morgenstern’s elegant world building continue, regardless if it ever came to a satisfying ending. Overall, The Starless Sea held up to the lofty expectations, probably unfairly foisted upon the title, following The Night Circus‘ eloquent word craft. I can’t wait to read Morgenstern’s third novel, even if it has to take another decade to be released.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I didn’t find Zachary and Dorian’s romance to be quite convincing. It seemed more like lust than overwhelming love.
- What would have happened if Zachary had entered the door he’d found as a child?
- I stay away from all spoilers when reading books but will typically look up other reviews after writing mine to see if anyone else agreed with me. Smart Bitches Trashy Books totally captured the whimsical, deliberate clues meticulously and sparingly revealed by Morgenstern. Read her review here but she really nailed what it is like to read The Starless Sea.
- I really wanted to see Eleanor’s and Simon’s reunion!
- What happens to the families of the people who disappear in this world? And why to the people not miss the people they’ve left?
- Kat find a portal but did she ever find Zachary ? What about Kat’s disappearance?
- How and who causes the people to go into the Starless Sea to have their identities disappear in the real world?
- Why did the Collectors Club close? What will those people do for a living now?
- How does Mirabel keep coming back to life?
- What will Rhyme, the Keeper, or Mirabel do now that the place they’ve called their home for years and years is now gone?
- Did Allegra recognize Kat from her painting?