Get a free audiobook

The Starless Sea

A Novel
Written by: Erin Morgenstern
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman, full cast
Length: 18 hrs and 37 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world - a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

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.

Read by Dominic Hoffman, with a full cast:

Dominic Hoffman reading the Zachary Ezra Rawlins storyline
Dion Graham reading the Sweet Sorrows storyline
Bahni Turpin reading excerpts from the Secret Diary of Katrina Hawkins
Fiona Hardingham reading The Ballad of Simon and Eleanor
Allan Corduner reading Fortunes and Fables
Jorjeana Marie reading Another place, another time

©2019 Erin Morgenstern (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"Erin Morgenstern has magic to make...the author returns with a new fantastical fairy-tale for grown-ups.... Comparisons to the likes of Tolkien, Carroll, and C.S. Lewis abound. The Starless Sea poses big questions about stories - the ones we read, the ones we live, and the ones we tell ourselves. And at the heart of her work lies the themes that have provoked those comparisons: redemption, sacrifice, fate, time, reincarnation.... We’re willing to bet the embrace of this deeper, darker, more complex follow-up novel might be close to a sure thing. As Morgenstern posits, The Starless Sea is a door to another world - one just waiting for readers to open it." (Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly)

"A magnificent quest, a sense of unfolding adventure and danger, gold-wrought fantasy, and endless provocation on what storytelling really means." (Library Journal starred review)

"A high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do [and] a stunning array of linked fables, myths and origin stories.... It is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail.... This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V. E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call. An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page." (Kirkus Reviews starred review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars

harsh s in narration

the narrator's s sound is so aggressive we would barely listen to the book

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aly P
  • 2019-11-06

Favorite book of 2019!

Wow wow wow! This book has been a long time coming and it did not disappoint! It was magical and whimsical and sad and beautiful and I absolutely loved it! The writing was so similar to The Night Circus and it just flowed around me. I got lost in the story and didn't want it to end. The characters were so well done, Zachary and Dorian, Mirabel and Allegra, and all the side characters. The little tales interspersed were great and really added to the overall feeling of the story.
I loved this and cannot recommend it enough! The audio was great, the different narrators in different parts made it pop and helped me tell when we were transitioning.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Iniysa
  • 2019-11-09

Timeless

This story is about stories in a library that's not a library, in a world underground with a honey sea and a starless night. It's about a boy who's now a man. It's about time yet it is timeless. Beginnings that are ends.

Don't delve into this book half hearted. Let it sink in and immerse you. It's complex and beautiful. I will perhaps re-read this in a year and it will be a new story with a familiar scent.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amber D
  • 2019-11-08

Glorious!

Well worth the eight-year wait! This is a story big enough to live in!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer
  • 2019-11-09

Perfection

The Night Circus took my breath away. I have, ever since, simultaneously yearned for and feared a second offering from the author. Could they catch lightning in a bottle twice? What if Jim Dale played too big a part in the magic, and not getting him back lessened the experience? I shouldn’t have worried. Somehow, by some strange alchemy, this book has managed to be even better. It broke my heart. It mended it. Not over the same matters, but multiple times each. I’ve never read anything like this before. and now? I wish it hadn’t ended, but know that it had to.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • newmoon
  • 2019-11-09

Highly anticipated, did not disappoint

Excuse me while I head right back to the beginning to listen again. There is just so much texture and detail to absorb!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • 2019-11-09

Denis Hoffman's narration has ruined it for me

I loved The Night Circus, and I'm sure I'll love The Starless Sea, but Denis Hoffman has ruined the audiobook for me, and I can explain why.

Hoffman reads every sentence with a syllable final octave slide - he starts on a particular note, hovers around there for the sentence, and then ends by sliding his voice down an octave like a one-trick bass player. What this does in practice is to give each sentence a feeling of finality and resignation, like a grandpa telling his 11 year old grand daughter to cheer up, she'll make the team next year (but probably not). Hoffman's reading contains no drama, no tension, no life, no expectation, no suspense, no transition, no variation, no mystery. This is a beautiful story read by Eeyore. It's a song with one chord. And I'm so sad because I have to return it.

Dion Graham is slightly better, but imbibes every breath with overly contrived drama.

I'm just going to tell myself that EM had no say over the narration, because the artwork is absolutely beautiful.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • A.Singer
  • 2019-11-08

Not for me - returning it

I'm sure I'll be in the minority in my reaction to The Starless Sea, probably even a very small minority, but I don't care for it. After 5 hours into it, achieved after stopping three times to return it then later deciding to try again, I have decided to return it.

I did like The Night Circus though I almost stopped listening to it early on. That's why I gave this one a couple extra tries before quitting. I really can't put into words what it is that I don't like, but in the beginning I got a sense of something dark and perhaps occultish and I've not been able to shake that feeling in the 5+ hours so far. I'm just not interested in anything in that vein and even if this story isn't really steeped in the occult (I'm not sure) I felt like the whole time I was listening I was waiting for some ball to drop. It's just me, I'm sure, but I just can't get into the story even though there are likeable elements. I love that it's about books and stories, I'm curious about the stars and fate and what happened to the stars. I think it's deeply imaginative and pretty well written.

I read a couple reviews somewhere else online recently and there were comparisons made between The Starless Sea and the works of Tolkien and CS Lewis. No. Sorry, no comparison there. I'm sure many people will love The Starless Sea just as much, or perhaps more, but I would not put this book in company of books by those authors.

Anyhow, for what it's worth, I don't usually write reviews because I'm not good at it, but I was compelled to say my two cents this time in case there are others who are wondering if they don't really like the book either but feel like they are going against the grain. Ya, you probably are, I probably am, but it's just not for everyone.

24 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Matt W.
  • 2019-11-09

like bad college creative writing compilation

I loved Night Circus, but this is a bad carnival in a parking lot.
Many stories strung together in a body of text in a spare parts kind of way

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • KinDallas
  • 2019-11-15

Loved Night Circus, but...

I'll start off with, I adore The Night Circus and was thrilled to see a new book by Morgenstern. The narration for Starless Sea is lovely, and we were off to a good start. However, by about halfway in, I was too disengaged in the story to want to finish. This is a pity, because I wanted this story so badly. The dialogue is stilted, and the stories within stories within stories, rather than nesting like dolls, bounced me around too much to really become invested. I so wish I enjoyed this, but I simply couldn't finish.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-11-14

Great book, just not my for me

This is a beautifully written, has a great premise, and amazing performances. It is a slower pace book. But the main character is so different from myself. Because of this his choices and actions frustrated me to the point that I just couldn't invest in him. As a result, I found the book boring and struggled through trying to finish with only about 5 hours left. When Max starts bitching Zachary out for asking what she was, I gave up. It's not like he put much pressure on anybody for answers for the entirety of the book and there she is getting all pissy. I just couldn't handle it. I think the book deserves all the 5 star reviews. Keep in mind that like all books, this one won't be for everybody.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful