Title: The Starless Sea
Publishing House:Harvill Secker
Date of Publication: November 5th 2019
Rating: 5 stars
”Far beneath the surface of the earth, hidden from the sun and the moon, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. Stories written in books and sealed in jars and painted on walls. Odes inscribed onto skin and pressed into rose petals. Tales laid in tiles upon the floors, bits of plot hung from chandeliers. Stories cataloged and cared for and revered. Old stories preserved while new stories spring up around them.”
I don’t think there are words to describe this book accurately. If magic, dreams and the essence of what stories mean for us could be found within the pages of a book, tangible enough for us to touch, this would be it…
Zachary is tempted by a strange book that has been forgotten in his university library. He is soon shocked to find that it contains secrets of his own childhood, along with beautiful, mystical legends of love and loss. Fate brings Mirable and Dorian in his way, two mysterious characters who seem to hold the answer to Zachary’s quest for an explanation. And somewhere close by the owls are watching…
”Isn’t that what anyone wants, though? […] To be able to make your own choices and decisions but to have it be part of a story? You want that narrative there to trust in, even if you want to maintain your own free will.”
Morgenstern has created a tale out of tales, a fable out of the human need to seek and explain, to dream and understand. Zachary’s story is closely connected to an array of beautiful stories/myths that focus on the unique ability to make the impossible possible. Each door leads to another step (but is it really a step forward…?), each character is a puzzle piece that can acquire multiple places on the board. Matryoshka dolls open and close within the pages as we try to guess and navigate along with Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian.
”These doors will sing. Silent siren songs for those who seek what lies behind them.
For those who feel homesick for a place they’ve never been to.
Those who seek even if they do not know what (or where) is that they are seeking.
Those who seek will find.
Their doors have been waiting for them.”
Morgenstern’s stories elevate the novel to perfection. From our need to touch the stars, to acquire the unattainable, to turn our dreams into reality, to throw our nightmares away like torn pieces of paper. Stories that are dark and menacing, stories of light and hope, on impossible love and dangerous antagonists, storied born in a world where dollhouses expand and create actual communities, where the Sun and the Moon meet to discuss the future of the world, where the Moon falls in love with a mortal man and Time falls in love with Fate, where young girls converse with ghosts, where women sculpt stories, where pirates and young women embark on adventures in the Starless Sea.
This book is for each one of us. The ones who love stories and magic, travelling to a place where we need to expect the unexpected. This isn’t about liking Fantasy or any other literary label. This is about living in a story the likes of which we haven’t seen before. This is about experiencing what it means when we talk about unbearably beautiful writing…
”Why then do you think the stories continue to be told once the children are grown?”