Book Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern is a Masterpiece

Erin Morgenstern’s second novel “The Starless Sea” is due to be released on November 5, 2019. Her debut, “The Night Circus,” came out in 2011 to much critical acclaim. It’s taken her eight years to deliver her follow-up, and after reading “The Starless Sea,” I have to say that it was well worth the wait.

I loved “The Night Circus.” I actually read this years ago, before my surgery in 2013. I ended up reading “The Night Circus” over again while I was reading “The Starless Sea.” I needed to see that the opinion I formulated about the book on page 70 was the correct one, that I was in actuality reading a masterpiece.

Remember, I loved “The Night Circus.” I do not say this lightly, but her debut is amateur compared to “The Starless Sea.” I am going to explain why…

No Spoilers

I am not going to give you a synopsis of this book. You can get that anywhere. I will say though that the synopsis provided online does not do the book justice. It actually doesn’t really tell you anything of importance. It just makes “The Starless Sea” look like a normal book. Not a great way to sell it.

What I am going to share with you is what I really thought of this book.

I did not truly grasp what was going on until the end (I am talking about that something magical moment happening). There were 43 pages left in the book. I tried to delay the inevitable that the book was coming to an end. By now, I had become a part of the story. I was so absorbed in the book, I was the story. But in a strange “Neverending Story” kind of way, it was like she knew I was there. She knew what the reader was thinking and feeling.

The reader is at the point where they are so much a part of the story that they do not want it to end. But it is at this juncture that she explains that all stories must come to an end. So she tries to coax us out of our little hole, as we cling to the book as if it is our very own existence, by explaining in length why stories must end.

That fear you have when you are almost at the end, because the book is brilliant so far, is that she is going to let you down and mess up the end. I mean, you really think she can’t pull it off. So she does what you hope she is not going to do. She let’s you down.

But she did that to you on purpose. It was as if she sensed your doubt. In the last two pages, she laughs, as if she is Fate. She laughs at the reader who thinks she is not going to pull it off to give us our happy ending.

With a mixture of storytelling, poetry, and fairy tales, she weaves her stories together. Each tale has a meaning. Each tale is important. When she brings them all together in a crashing crescendo, you feel like all of the stories are going to drive you insane. It’s becoming too much.

She inserts a person who has gone insane because of all of the stories. At the exact moment those stories are beating in your head, she introduces the crazy person and then leads them out of the crazy.



If you do not believe in magic, perhaps you will after reading “The Starless Sea.” That is the only way I can explain what happened at each juncture.

I’ve read a few of the reviews from others who were lucky to get an advance copy and I feel like I should say that they read the book wrong.

“The Starless Sea” is not the kind of book that you can skim through or read quickly. You need to take your time and absorb the story. That is the only way you will be able to understand how this is a masterpiece. If you go through the book too quickly, you will miss out on the clues and the greater meaning of what you are reading.

This is also not a book for people who do not believe in Fate. If you do not believe in fate or synchronicity or that weird thing that happens in life that cannot be explained that can only be described as God winking back at you, then this book is not for you. You have to believe in fate, synchronicity and God winks in order to understand this book.

You have to believe in the impossible, that it can, in fact, be real.

I knew by page 70 that I was curating this book into my collection. I still had another 426 pages to go, but I knew on page 70 that I had something special in my hands. Page 70 is where fate and time’s story are whispered and it is here where you can see Morgenstern’s mastery of storytelling, especially when it comes to telling fairy tales and myths.

It’s been two weeks since I put this book down and I feel as if I am going through withdrawal. The last time a book made me feel this way was Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s “The Shadow of the Wind.”

I absorbed “The Starless Sea.” I made this story a part of my being, because it deserves no less in order to truly understand it. Believe it or not, the message she is sharing is something so much grander than you can imagine. I felt like I was nodding my head in agreement thinking…SHE GETS IT! She understands the mysteries of this universe and she’s doing an incredible job of explaining this to the reader.

BUT only people who understand the answers to our universe can see what she’s done. A spiritual person can understand this book and its meaning. If you understand and appreciate Paulo Coelho’s message, then you’ll understand “The Starless Sea.”

Paulo Coelho, fate, spirituality, magic, and synchronicity are not everyone’s cup of tea, because it goes against their beliefs and understanding of the world. If you are one of those people, do not waste your time with this book, because you’ll leave bad reviews. But for those who believe in something greater because they witness it every single day, this book is definitely for you.

“The Starless Sea” is very different from her debut. Her debut feels like every other great read out there. “The Starless Sea” is her PhD. I can understand why it took eight years for this book to show up. It is as if Morgenstern has mastered the art of writing over the years and has put her masterpiece forward.

I just don’t know how she can put out another book any better than this. I mean…how do you come out with something better than a masterpiece? Is that even possible?

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[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links.]