December: “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Our December 2019 Book of the Month

I am going to state up front that The Starless Sea is not a Book Club Book and that is precisely and emphatically why I am selecting this enchanting and dreamlike second novel by Erin Morgenstern as my December Book of the Month. Dear readers, let me save you from my initial mistake, so you can just jump down the rabbit hole of Morgenstern’s making and enjoy a reading ride you may not have had the pleasure of for a very long time. I started this book as I do every new release trying to unlock it’s secrets, analyze its structure, find its symbols and meanings, and decide if it is worthy of a book club’s time or a facilitator’s expertise. The Night Circus, Morgenstern’s brilliant debut novel, had its roots in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and symbolism amongst its magic that could be decoded. This book had me tearing my hair out and feeling like an idiot. I could not find any literary references or myths to truly guide me. Then I gave up and realized I didn’t care. It did not matter. A book can just be a book. I loved reading this story and was savoring every word. I couldn’t wait to get into bed each night and continue the adventure along with the characters, descending deeper and deeper into a world that felt fantastical and familiar simultaneously. For days after it was over, I missed living in the world of The Starless Sea, in the way I lived in created worlds as a child. I wanted to share it and therefore it is the December Book of the Month.

I will not destroy your experience of sheer joy by writing an actual review, and I actually recommend avoiding them. This book is my holiday gift to anyone that just wants to escape into a book about the power of storytelling and truly believes as I do that all of our lives are a series of narrative choices that build on each other and connect us to the world around us.

As a character in the novel says, “ I think people came here for the same reason we came here. In search of something. Even if we didn’t know what it was. Something more. Something to wonder at. Someplace to belong. We’re here to wander through other people’s stories, searching for our own. To Seeking.”

I will humbly add, To Reading!


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.


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..

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