Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Audible Edition)

This was my most anticipated read of the year. I had it on pre order for months and I even got the Audible edition because I knew I would never be able to put it down!

The book arrived and it was beautiful and it has been all over my IG feed because I simply love it.

I also loved Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, and I couldn’t imagine a world in which I wouldn’t feel the same about this book. So the fateful day came and I downloaded the Audible edition and started reading the day after it was released…..and finally almost 6 weeks later I simply just had to admit that it was going to be a DNF for me.


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 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. (summary from Goodreads).


Warning, unpopular opinions coming. I just want to say that I am in the minority with this one. Tons and tons of people loved it but I simply couldn’t get into it. It wasn’t that I hated it, I just felt disconnected, bored, and overwhelmed.

This book is definitely an ode to story telling, fables, fairy tales, and books. The sheer under taking and imaginative scope of this book deserves all the stars and all the book awards. The concept and execution are wondrous and exciting and you really get the feel that the author enjoyed writing this book….I just wish that as a reader I felt the same. The author’s prose is elegant and intelligent and it takes a truly gifted writer to create something like this. There were so many thoughts, concepts, and things happening in a unique and rich world but sadly I felt like it was just too much, like the book was trying too hard to make me love it.

There were so many little side stories and I felt as though at some point in the larger narrative they would play a role or have a purpose and who knows maybe they do I just didn’t want to continue reading to find out. I am not really into fables so reading so many fables was hard and tedious for me. I gave it my best effort (almost half way through)  and just couldn’t take another fable.

Everything in the book was so detailed and described in the extreme as to give the reader a vivid picture, but for me I found it a little overwhelming. There was so much to keep track of and I just couldn’t get connected to any of the characters. I wanted to connect with Zachary so badly and just as I was starting to find him interesting, the story would shift to another fable and I would be so annoyed that I found myself barely following along with the fable.

The narrators for this book were incredible and I thought they added a lot to my listening experience but the story itself was too slow and cumbersome for me. I tried switching to the physical book to see if that helped and it just didn’t.

There were too many metaphors, too many stories, too much confusion, too much skipping around…..just too much. I found myself completely lost and uninterested in this one and it just breaks my heart to say that. I wanted to love it so much but I simply just didn’t. I know plenty of other people loved it but it just wasn’t for me.

Book Info and Rating

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Doubleday Books
ISBN 038554121X (ISBN13: 9780385541213)
Review copy provided by, personal collection, all opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 1 star, DNF
Genre: Fantasy


2 thoughts on “Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Audible Edition)

  1. I loved this one but I can definitely understand where someone might be put off by all the layers of narratives. Maybe revisit it at another point? I plan to reread it at some point because I think it’s not something that should be read just one, and maybe reading it straight through is also not the best approach… But then again, it’s also definitely not for everyone!

  2. I finally got this book on CD from my library, and so far I agree with the review. The writing is eloquent, but it jumps around so much that it is not a relaxing read, and I am only on Disc 2! I am definitely going to finish it, because I trust that Erin Morgenstern went in convoluted directions with a purpose, but I disagree that the narrators were incredible. Dion Graham is absolutely excellent, and sets the atmosphere perfectly, but I am disappointedly is Dominic Hoffman’s awkward reading, pausing after pronouncing final consonants so that the flow feels interrupted. His characters speak in an unnatural way, his husky voice is almost muffled, and I am thinking that I should have checked out the printed copy rather that trying to work on art projects (specifically Inktober sketches) while listening.

Charming comments go here!

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