The Starless Sea: A Novel
by Erin Morgenstern
Hardcover- $26.06

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world--a place of ...

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  "This is a difficult read." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 02/15/20

The Starless Sea, Erin Morgenstern, author; Dominic Hoffman, Dion Graham, Bahni
Turpin, Fiona Hardingham, Allan Corduner, Jorjeana Marie, narrators
I really had high hopes for this book. The production seemed to be well thought out. There are several audio narrators which I believed would help to clearly define each character as a unique individual. The introduction to the book seemed really creative and intriguing. There seem to be two connected stories, separated by time. One takes place in the past and begins with a pirate who is in jail. He seems to be feared. There is a female who has visited and brought him meals, several times. She appears to have become quite attached to him, and she has asked him to tell her a story. He begins on the evening before his scheduled hanging, to tell her the story of the three paths of “Sweet Sorrows”. In this story, there is a fantasy world made up of acolytes and guardians. They are put through a series of trials which use the symbols of a bee, a sword and a key. These trials, in which their worthiness is judged, can be rather violent, although the narrative is written so lyrically, the violence almost becomes acceptable.
Then there is another world. It is the world of of Zachary Ezra Rawlins, the son of a fortune teller. He is a video gamer doing research on video games. In the library, he discovers a book that describes an incident he lived through as a young boy. Once he had stumbled on a hidden door to a hidden fantasy world that would take him to the “starless sea”, but he did not enter. The door had symbols on it. The symbols were a bee, a sword and a key. (These symbols connect both stories.) In this book he found, he reads part of the story of his life. The book spooks him. How does the author of this book know about it? Who is the author? He doesn’t tell anyone else about it, but he wonders about it.
When Zachary is asked to help a friend out with her project, he accepts. In that narrative, the reader is given hints pointing to the fact that he is homosexual. It was at that point that I pretty much decided I would have to give up on the book. It was growing consistently more and more confusing, anyway, as the tale kept slipping back and forth from the story of “Sweet Sorrows”, in the past, to Zachary’s technological world of video games in the present. Also, I really do prefer not to read books that are about sexual relationships, especially those that I do not identify with, and do not quite understand. Actually, I prefer a good book that does not even need sex to make it interesting.
At any rate, after listening to the first two parts and realizing I was dreading the third, I turned off the audio and deleted it. I rarely give up on a book, especially one I have waited for, but this one simply disappointed me. It became an effort, not a pleasure, to listen to it. Perhaps in a print copy the experience could be more controlled and might be more enjoyable, but it does not interest me any longer.
Because of the effort that went into its production, I gave it two stars. Someone else may really identify with the themes and enjoy its presentation.

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