The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
At any point in time, while you might be reading this, you might perk up and exclaim, "Hey! That's some very pretty writing!" or you might say, "The worldbuilding in this is magical, mysterious, and always fluttering about in the corners of your vision," or, "There sure are a lot of stories within stories in this."
And you know what? That's all wonderful. Gorgeous. There are so many pretty literary flowers and if you love books and myths and myths within myths and books within stories and stories within books, you're automatically going to fall for the Starless Sea.
I did, for quite some time. In fact, I totally got into each story snippet and rolled along the void-like waves of these floaters and when we switched to another raft on the starless sea, I just assumed that we were eventually going to go somewhere huge with it.
And no, I don't believe that every book must have a solid plot. I just happen to prefer it. So when all these little rafts bumped, whether within symbology, mysterious House of Mystery Inns, timey-wimey interconnectedness, or as love stories, I admit I enjoyed them all. But when my analytical side started digging its cat-like claws into my leg as I got further into the tale, I started to get annoyed.
Just where is this going? Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends. The author even brought up the question of the end in exactly this way but from within the novel, and her answer was as unsatisfying as the actual end to this novel.
Don't get me wrong. There IS an end and a wrap-up -- of sorts -- but I thought it was somewhat weak.
A shorter tale that didn't have as many loose floating ends, would have been fine with it. As it is, with so many ongoing stories within stories, we're asked to sit down and contemplate how wise and thoughtful Morgenstern is and trust her wisdom. Unfortunately, for all the outright beauty in the novel, overall, I expected something with a lot more oomph.
An actual connecting plot with more serious consequences and stakes might have done more for me, especially with all that beautiful prose and awesome details.
Win some, lose some, I guess.
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