Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Starless Sea

Title:  The Starless Sea
Author:  Erin Morgenstern
Publication Information:  Doubleday. 2019. 512 pages.
ISBN:  038554121X / 978-0385541213

Book Source:  I read this book based on how much I enjoyed the author's first book The Night Circus.

Opening Sentence:  "There is a pirate in the basement."

Favorite Quote:  "There is no fixing. There is only moving forward in the brokenness."

Keys. swords. Bees. Ancient books. Books worth stealing and worth protecting. A secret, labyrinth like library with acolytes, guardians, and keepers. A young man who is reader and a gamer. A fable about fate and time. A story of a pirate and a girl. A tale of owl kings. An adventure that may or may not be real and may or may not be happening. The dividing line between reality and fantasy is blurry not just because this is a fiction work but for the characters in the story itself. Who is real? Who is part of an imagined story? Does that line blend? Is it all real?

To some extent, that is what this book is about. Not the most clear of descriptions, but that is absolutely this book.

I love books that define themselves:

"Reading a novel, he supposes, is like playing a game where all the choices have been made for you ahead of time by someone who is much better at this particular game. (Though he sometimes wishes choose-your-own-adventure novels would come back into fashion.)" The choices end up being predetermined, but there are so many threads to be followed that, at times, it appears that you may be choosing after all. The "why" behind the story does come, and it connects all the dots between the stories within the story and reinforces that the choices were predetermined.

"Stories are personal, you relate or you don't." This book is clearly not for everybody. It is a twisting, turning flight of fancy that is at times very, very slow and at times so jumbled that it is hard to keep clear. However, for me it works. Like The Night Circus, the visual writing leaves a complete image of   the starless sea and all the surrounding harbors, even though none of them exist. More than anything else, what makes this book work is the picture it paints. The "where" of the book becomes at least as important if not more so than the "who, what, when". The "why" is the ultimate revelation of the book. The writing builds an entire fantastical world with sights, sounds, and even smells of the starless sea and its harbors.

"Books are always better when read rather than explained." This statement is absolutely true for this book. It is not a linear story. However, I willing follow along all the paths until they do come together, and I am left wondering what happens next. I am not quite ready for the adventure to be over. The ending hints at a new beginning perhaps? I am still not entirely sure what happened or rather if what I understand is what was intended. To me, it does not matter because what I understand becomes my unique experience with this book.

"Sometimes life gets weird. You can try to ignore it or you can see where weird takes you." The book is different from much of what I have read except perhaps for Erin Morgenstern's first book. For both, I follow the weird, and it leads to an enjoyable reading experience.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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