A Wonderful YA Fantasy Novel that’s Perfect for Book Lovers

If you have a love for books, fantasy, magic, and all sorts of creative storytelling, then The Starless Sea is perfect for you. It’s one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Although centered around magic and a secret world, it is unlike any other fantasy book. Written by Erin Morgenster, and published in 2019, The Starless Sea is a refreshing addition to the fantasy genre.

The book is made up of short stories, side stories, and stories within stories that all eventually connect to the main plot and fill in for what the protagonist doesn’t see. This makes the entire novel very complex but isn’t so confusing that the reader can’t keep up. The protagonist, Zachary Ezra Rawlins, is an introverted graduate student who prefers other stories to his own. After finding a mysterious and unsettling book without an author in his university’s library, Zachary can’t help but look for clues as to what it is and where it came from. These clues lead him deeper into the history of the mysterious book than he ever intended to go, and often leave him questioning reality. He eventually finds himself in a magical, seemingly infinite, underground library.  In this underground world, Zachary learns that he has a very important role to play in the fate of fate itself. There are people trying to keep him and everyone else out of the underground library. They will do whatever it takes to keep their world hidden. He must learn to navigate this secret world while also trying to figure out his relationships with the other characters. While most of the side stories are love stories, and there is romance in the main plot, it doesn’t take away from the other conflicts.

The novel’s overall theme is that everything must eventually come to an end. However, the side stories also focus on topics such as  the importance of storytelling, trust, fate, individualism, time, and love. The themes are incorporated in a thought-provoking way that leaves the reader constantly going over the stories in their mind long after they finish the book. Although these are heavier topics, they are perfectly balanced out by the amazing imagery and world building.

The main story takes place in the modern world with another secret layer to it, which Zachary accidentally discovers in his search for the mysterious book’s author. The main plot and many of the side stories all center around literature and art, perfect for anyone interested in academia. This fantastic underground world is home to pirates, rabbits, art, cats, books, an unusual sea, and so, so many stories. In fact, the place itself seems to be made up of stories, as they can be found everywhere and in as many different forms as they are in quantity. But possibly the strangest thing about this place is the lack of people. So many rooms and so many stories, but no one to enjoy them, the place is almost entirely empty of living people.

The book’s plot is driven by a range of unique characters that are racially and ethnically diverse. Strong female characters, both good and evil, guide the protagonist on his journey, and the fascinating people Zachary comes to know have rich backgrounds that lead to unexpected twists. The Starless Sea’s diversity celebrates individuality, while also showing that people have more similarities than differences.

Erin Morgenstern is an American author who is known for her more popular, but no less magnificent book, The Night Circus. Her imagery and description are just as important and interesting as the plot, if not more. She describes the world from a fresh and unusual

perspective that adds an extra layer of magic to everything. The world building is exceptional, and she ties everything together in the end while maintaining the story’s mystery. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves and appreciates storytelling.


Works Cited

Erin Morgenstern. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from