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The Starless Sea: A Novel Hardcover – November 5, 2019

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,961 ratings

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Beyond your wildest dreams
From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. Listen free with trial
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of November 2019: Those of us who loved The Night Circus have waited nearly a decade for Erin Morgenstern’s next novel and The Starless Sea does not disappoint. In fact, Morgenstern’s enchanted touch with words and imagery, so vivid it’s impossible not to picture even the most delicate of details, is as exquisite as ever. The Starless Sea is a love letter to books and readers, a masterpiece of stories within a story where fables of pirates and princesses converge with the saga of Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the son of a fortune teller. A series of unusual events leads Rawlins to a secret repository of books and fairy tales, a place that contains worlds within time and somewhere a starless sea. Rawlins falls in love first with a book and later a person, both of which compel him to embark on a dangerous journey through time and place, lost loves, and lives lived again and again. I was delighted by Morgenstern’s nods to the beloved world-bending classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and—as I began to hope for in a book with many magical doors—Narnia. The Starless Sea reveals increasing layers of complexity as fiction and reality start to blend, and characters collide in surprising ways. I could go on and on about the beauty of Morgenstern’s writing, and the symbolism of the bee, the key, and the sword, but instead I will tell you that the night I finished this book I dreamt about it. And it was pure magic —Seira Wilson, Amazon Book Review

Review

"Anyone who’s read Erin Morgenstern’s wildly successful fiction debut, The Night Circus, knows how meticulously she crafts her imaginary worlds... the reader [is] immersed in a multitude of stories, the threads of which gradually weave together to a haunting conclusion."—NPR

“A mythical tale…a story about stories, all essentially relating to Fate and Time. Morgenstern nests a glittering trove of meta-narratives, myths, folkloric fables within a main storyline about a hero’s quest. The Starless Sea is the kind of book that could spawn a Harry Potter-esque cult. I can imagine fan sites devoted to mapping, analyzing and connecting the dots among its fantastical intricacies. I predict readers for whom it will become a holy of holies, one of their most treasured books of all time. It’s that kind of book. ”—Newsday 

“A richly imaginative ode to books and storytelling...this fantasy-filled novel entwines a mysterious underground world with the story of a grad student on a quest to understand his past.”  People

"From the author of The Night Circus comes a wildly fanciful lark that has all the hits: mystery, love, libraries, Harry Potter references, and pirates. It's a complex, darkly beautiful story with some of the most inventive storytelling we've read all year.”Good Housekeeping, Best Book of 2019

"The most joyous reading experience I’ve had in recent memory... It is, not to put too fine a point on it, wonderful...  a master-class in plotting and prestidigitation... unabashedly romantic... a warm, honeyed bath of words and ideas."Robert WiersemaThe Toronto Star 

"Assuredly beautiful... The novel reads like panel after panel of mythic illustrations... It demands that its readers interpret it in an older way; the way we read The Faerie Queene... Well-written... The novel’s scope and ambition are undeniable."—Natasha Pulley, The Guardian

"A mystical adventure in an enchanted universe... The novel 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. For Zachary, that pleasure outweighs any temptation he might have to return to school and his regular life. It leads, instead, to a journey of sacrifice and self-discovery as he unearths his own place in the puzzling book’s narrative. For everyone else, the thrill comes from watching him on the ride." —Annabel Gutterman, Time

"Erin Morgenstern has magic to make... the author returns with a new fantastical fairy-tale for grown-ups... Comparisons to the likes of Tolkien, Carroll, and C.S. Lewis abound. The Starless Sea poses big questions about stories — the ones we read, the ones we live, and the ones we tell ourselves. And at the heart of her work lies the themes that have provoked those comparisons: redemption, sacrifice, fate, time, reincarnation.... We’re willing to bet the embrace of this deeper, darker, more complex follow-up novel might be close to a sure thing. As Morgenstern posits, The Starless Sea is a door to another world — one just waiting for readers to open it."—Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly

"Extravagantly imaginative... Her new book arrives eight years after her high-wire fantasy of a first novel The Night Circus, and it's just as magical but even more daring... The stuff of a bibliophile's dreams... There are nods to Tolkien and Sendak, Susanna Clarke and Lev Grossman, Grimm and Gaiman. The intricate world-building is nothing short of fabulous, the prose lush and filigreed." —Nancy Pate, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A timeless love story"The Nerd Daily

"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

"A high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do [and] a stunning array of linked fables, myths and origin stories. . . . It is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail. . . . This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call. An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Morgenstern's new fantasy epic is a puzzlebox of a book, full of meta-narratives and small folkloric tales that will delight readers. . . . Morgenstern uses poetic, honey-like prose to tell a story that plays with the very concept of what we expect and want from our stories. . . . She trusts her readers to follow along and speculate, wonder and make leaps themselves . . . giving the book a mythic quality that will stick with readers long after they put it down. The massive legion of readers who loved Morgenstern's debut will be clamoring to recapture the magic of that reading experience." Booklist, starred review

"This love letter to bibliophiles is dreamlike and uncanny, grounded in deeply felt emotion, and absolutely thrilling." Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A page-turner. . . . It's unlikely [The Night Circus fans] will be disappointed by this sweeping follow-up, which unfolds an epic romance within a secret underground world of lost cities, handsome pirates and endless puzzles to be solved." Entertainment Weekly

"[A] gorgeously written epic love story, filled with magic and mystery." —Popsugar

"A spellbinding novel. . . . I could not put it down, and when I finished, I turned immediately back to the first page so I wouldn't have to leave this magical world. If you believe in the power of stories to transcend time and space, to marry love and fate, read this book!" —Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek

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Beyond your wildest dreams
From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. Listen free with trial

Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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1,961 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
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Top international reviews

Muse
3.0 out of 5 stars I have very mixed feelings about this book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 14, 2019
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The Reading Room
2.0 out of 5 stars Snippets of dark tales
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2019
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Stan-san
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 2nd novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 29, 2019
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The booktrail
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical mystery set in New York and the world of books
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 1, 2019
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Swiftie4lyfe
5.0 out of 5 stars Too weird to be enjoyable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 20, 2019
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brianmcinally
5.0 out of 5 stars Readers need stories, but do stories need readers?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2020
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Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the story of when Time fell in love with Fate.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 16, 2019
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Paul T.
5.0 out of 5 stars Doors and stories and a great deal more.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2020
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markr
4.0 out of 5 stars a computer game set to words, a fantasy, and a tribute to books and stories
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2019
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J.M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 14, 2020
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Ing
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favouritist book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 27, 2019
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K.CUNNINGHAM
2.0 out of 5 stars Doors, doors and more doors....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2020
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Lawrence E. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful. Convoluted. Fantastic.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 12, 2019
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Susie the Baker
4.0 out of 5 stars A big read and a difficult structure, for me.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 21, 2020
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Inkling
1.0 out of 5 stars A dry biscuit.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 7, 2020
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