C.G. Drews's Reviews > The Starless Sea

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 5-star, adult, magical-fantasy, read-2020, best-of-2020

I just want to be absorbed into this book and never never leave. It captured me in indescribable ways? No really; I'm struggling for words on how to sum up everything about this book. It was beautiful and peculiar, whimsical and weird. It was such a thoughtful look into storytelling and being passive in your own narrative...and also it's so deeply about searching. For your own story. For your person. For some reason to keep believing in magic. And then add in secret bookish societies, and the occasional gunshot, old books and old ink, caverns underground filled and filled and filled with books, cable-knit sweaters and tea, and secret doors that open to worlds that can't exist...it SPOKE to me. It filled aching holes in my soul.

aaand...I also need to take a moment and admit there were so many times I didn't have a freaking clue what was happening. 😌 So there's that too.

I do understand why it's a book people love or hate. I mean, for starters, it's very very slow and the writing is very passive. It will describe a book's binding and grain of the carpet. It's peppered with stories interrupting the main narrative, until you realise the short stories ARE ALSO the main narrative and they all connect -- but are they metaphor or real or magic? By the end I really didn't understand a lot. (view spoiler) But it was so immersive and beautiful and deeply magical, with actual stories spooling from the pages and stories without stories, tied behind other stories, I just was in love. I can't stop thinking about it.

I'm like Zachary with Sweet Sorrows: I felt seen by this book. (It reads like a bookworm's DREAM -- falling into an underground library with mysteries to solve and magic to uncover. And I, like Zachary, would also send a note to the kitchen saying "i love u kitchen" because utter mood.)

I think the book is supposed to feel like a video-game, in that you get turned loose in this underground book realm and you get to explore. So that's not a fast thing. (I also don't play vidoe games so bare with me lol.) And since Zachary is a video game major, I felt it tied that in -- talking about storytelling and narratives where the READER (or player) directs the story.

And Zachary? What a dumbass I love him so much. He's so so stuck in his own head, little socially anxious, little shy, little lost in life's direction -- not deeply unhappy, just deeply missing something. He spends like 90% of his dialogue saying "WHAT IS HAPPENING" though and that is an utter mood, but I also appreciated his self awareness of not always following the metaphors. Also he spends so long with smudgy vision because he didn't bring his glasses. 😂 I love touches like that. He gets moody at one stage and retreats to nap and eat a lot of dumplings. He's softly gay and will tuck a book into his coat pocket because it feels better having the story closer.

I am running out of WORDS to say how much I love Zachary Ezra Rawlins.

It's myth and metaphor and magic combined. It's honestly a phenomenal book and made homesick for finding my own underground library. I LOVED the secret society vicious twist, and the darkness coming to life at the end, and how Zachary had a book and then a sword and then an adventure. I totally didn't understand a lot of it. I kind of want to search for author interviews after this maybe. I just sit and MULL. And then reread. It just struck a chord with me, despite being confused and it being slow. I could fairly feel the old dusty book pages and cosy sweaters and cat rubbing against my ankles.

It's a book that challenges you, but gently -- right up until it shoves you off a cliff.

Don't be passive. Pick up your sword and your story and move.
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Quotes C.G. Liked

Erin Morgenstern
“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are. It’s nice to finally have someone read stories I know so intimately.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“We are all stardust and stories.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“A reading major, that's what he wants. No response papers, no exams, no analysis, just the reading.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“Having a physical reaction to a lack of book is not unusual.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“It doesn't look like anything special, like it contains an entire world, though the same could be said of any book.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“...it tastes older than stories. It tastes like myth.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“Spiritual but not religious,” Zachary clarifies. He doesn’t say what he is thinking, which is that his church is held-breath story listening and late-night-concert ear-ringing rapture and perfect-boss fight-button pressing. That his religion is buried in the silence of freshly fallen snow, in a carefully crafted cocktail, in between the pages of a book somewhere after the beginning but before the ending.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“How are you feeling? Zachary asks. “Like I’m losing my mind but in a slow, achingly beautiful sort of way.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

Erin Morgenstern
“I accepted because mysterious ladies offering bourbon under the stars is very much my aesthetic.”
Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea


Reading Progress

November 8, 2018 – Shelved
November 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
March 19, 2020 – Started Reading
March 19, 2020 –
page 50
10.04% ""The impulse to say no that Zachary has for pretty much anything that involves talking to people arises automatically"

so I am Zachary 😌this book is me"
March 27, 2020 –
page 334
67.07% "Dorian: [touches a sweater in a wardrobe]
Zachary: [is passive aggressively jealous of the sweater]"
March 29, 2020 –
page 383
76.91% "both Zachary and I are having minor breakdowns wondering what the heck is going on"
March 30, 2020 –
page 430
86.35% "peak Zachary moments: the fact he's wearing his pyjamas through most of the finale and he how just found a squashed lemon gluten free muffin in his bag"
April 2, 2020 – Shelved as: 5-star
April 2, 2020 – Shelved as: adult
April 2, 2020 – Shelved as: magical-fantasy
April 2, 2020 – Shelved as: read-2020
April 2, 2020 – Shelved as: best-of-2020
April 2, 2020 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Zoe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zoe Nepolello YES. THIS REVIEW! Love it and this book! It’s definitely one that begs you to reread, because every time you do, little strings are tied together, things begin to make more sense and you can see how so many things are connected and strung up for you to see. It’s really really beautiful. I can’t wait to reread again to find more.


Kathy I am so looking forward to rereading this one! I had a terribly hard time properly articulating my thoughts about it as well, aside from I LOVED IT NEED TO REREAD. Glad you also liked it =)


Lara Reading this wonderful review made me want to re-read this book 😭💓


Anjali (bookstersisters) This is it!!! This is exactly how I felt. Even after like three rereads, the story is still with me and parts of it are still as confusing as ever but I just love it. A book that makes me think so much is definitely a favourite


Kristy You just put all of my thoughts into words! I adored this book so much!!! I definitely need to reread it though because I feel like there is so much in this book to explore, and I need to read it again to discover all of the little things.


Ethan This review legitimately explains everything that I was feeling. I read this and it’s my favorite book of all time! I got to meet Erin Morgenstern also and she’s wonderful!!!❤️🐝🗝🗡


Kariane (bookish.introverts) This book made my heart explode with happiness and warmth. I absolutely loved the writing!


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