“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.”
I feel obligated to preface with this: I feel like this book was written for me. Maybe you will feel like that too. Maybe this will not be the book for you, despite its beauty. Maybe you will read it and love it and forget about it, half-remembered as something you once read and once loved. All that I know is that my review stopped being biased right around the time the concept of a massive underground library was introduced. To put it eloquently,
“Not all stories speak to all listeners, but all listeners can find a story that does, somewhere, sometime. In one form or another.”
“We are all stardust and stories.”
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is both. He finds himself in a barcode-less library book, searching for a door he lost years ago. He does not know it yet, but he is seeking the Starless Sea, a labyrinthian underground composed mostly of stories, partially of magic, and entirely of a substance that permeates and yet does not obscure our own, hyper-realistic world.
The son of a fortune-teller attends an aptly literary masquerade and makes the acquaintance of the King of the Wild Things, of a story-teller called (not to be confused with named) Dorian, and a world of doors, some hidden, some painted, some lost in time, traveling deeper into a world of myth and mystery, outside of time and yet chronicled in the looming halls and by the bees, who have always been there.
I am hesitant to give you more than this. The book hardly needs an explanation or introduction. It is meant to be discovered, to be read hungrily and then, to be lived. Morgenstern has woven myth and fairytale into her own fantasy, as dark as it is wonderous, rife with gilded lines and immersive imagery. The Starless Sea is a book at the same time that it is something else entirely. It has been a long time since I've been so drawn to a novel, since I've disappeared so fully in its pages.
This is for the children who read Alice in Wonderland and craved something more, something darker. This is for the adults who feel they have lost something of themselves and just need a nudge in the right direction, though this is more desperately intense free-fall than nudge. This is as much as can be described without letting you experience it for yourself. I do not know if this is for everyone, but I think it must be. It is the universal breath of narrative, an intricate dance of language, a story of Time and Fate and stars and seas and bees and hearts and crowns and swords and knights and inns and Moons and Suns, of everything you forgot you had been looking for.
“How are you feeling? Zachary asks. “Like I’m losing my mind but in a slow, achingly beautiful sort of way.”
I would recommend this to anyone and everyone if that hasn't become clear. I think I have stumbled upon my new favorite book, though to call it such feels like a gross injustice of understatement. This review is intense, but so feels my heart after traversing these seas. And oh, how I have missed a mind full of stories again.
“It is a sanctuary for storytellers and storykeepers and storylovers. They eat and sleep and dream surrounded by chronicles and histories and myths.”