Book review: ‘Starless Sea’ is a mythical tale with Potter-level potential

“The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern; Doubleday (498 pages, $28.95) ——— “The Starless Sea” is the second novel from Erin Morgenstern, who debuted with “The Night Circus” eight years ago. Since then, it has sold 2 million copies in the United States, and has been translated into 37 languages. […]

In essence, it is a story about stories, all essentially relating to Fate and Time. Morgenstern nests a glittering trove of meta-narratives, myths, folkloric fables within a main storyline about a hero’s quest. That hero is a nerdy, gay grad student named Zachary Ezra Rawlins who studies “video game design, with a focus on psychology and gender issues.” He is shy, awkward and generally adorable.

The second describes an underground world, a series of tunnels and rooms on the shores of the Starless Sea (no stars underground, of course). It is essentially a sprawling library, a place filled with stories, cataloged and cared for by acolytes who are initiated via a painful ritual.

The third story tells of a boy, the son of a fortuneteller, who finds a door one day but does not open it.

We then move to January 2015, where Zachary is in the library of his university. He picks up a mis-shelved book with no author called “Sweet Sorrows.” It begins with the three stories described above. As he reads the third story, Zachary’s hands begin to shake. He is the son of a fortuneteller, and the incidents described here are exactly what happened to him one day on the way home from school…

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