In an underground labyrinth of books reminiscent of the Neitherlands library in Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy, Zachary Ezra Rawlins sifts through story after story, searching for his own. After stumbling across an odd anecdote from his childhood in an authorless book, Zachary seeks answers in the subterranean library, through painted doors and overlapping realities. There, he finds stories barely contained by their pages, riddles of Fate and Time, tales of weary travelers and all-seeing owls, and perhaps even love. Morgenstern's highly anticipated second novel is gorgeously written and highly imaginative. Recommended By Alice G., Powells.com
Erin Morgenstern is the kind of writer who, as she grew up, never lost her childhood sense of wonder. Her sense of joy. Her sense of innocent anticipation. Every page of this book rings with all of that. And more. The Starless Sea is a puzzle, a quest, a mystery. Not one, not two, but three unrequited love stories are tangled up with this fantastical story of bees, underground libraries, seas of honey, owl kings, keys, swords, masquerade balls, mysterious books, and a million unbearably enticing doors, each hiding something behind them; but what is it? This is a place where time and fate mean more than you think, the moon and the sun share more than the sky, and mere humans try to navigate the swirling waters of the Starless Sea. Morgenstern's story will make you feel like a kid again — taking you to a time when everything was impossibly new, utterly fascinating, and boundlessly thrilling. Gorgeous. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
I loved this impressive, totally immersive tale of a magical library. Morgenstern follows Night Circus with a tour de force of opulent fantasy and compelling adventure. Recommended By Kathi K., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world — a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians — it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose — in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
"[The Starless Sea] is not simply a quest narrative - it's also a meta-examination of stories that demands the reader's patience - and then rewards it... Morgenstern's elegant, poetic prose keeps the pages turning as she begins to draw connections within a web of tales that reads like an ode to stories, themselves, and celebrates the distinct pleasure that comes from engaging with a text." Time
"Extravagantly imaginative.... The intricate world-building is nothing short of fabulous, the prose lush and filigreed." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A magnificent quest, a sense of unfolding adventure and danger, gold-wrought fantasy, and endless provocation on what storytelling really means." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world...An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
About the Author
ERIN MORGENSTERN is the author of The Night Circus, a number-one national best seller that has been sold around the world and translated into thirty-seven languages. She has a degree in theater from Smith College and lives in Massachusetts.