THE STARLESS SEA by Erin Morgenstern narrated by Dominic Hoffman (Zachary Ezra Rawlins), Dion Graham (“Sweet Sorrows”), Bahni Turpin (“The Secret Diary of Katrina Hawkins”), Fiona Hardingham (“The Ballad of Simon & Eleanor”), Allan Corduner (“Fortunes and Fables”) and Jorjeana Marie (“Another Place, Another Time.”)

This has to be the weirdest piece of writing I have ever experienced and I honestly don’t think I would have had the patience to read it if it hadn’t been for the magnificent narrators who brought this story to life.

THE STARLESS SEA is as cloying, sweet, and viscous as the honey which forms the main metaphor of this novel. Photo 136757837 / Dripping Honey © Annausova75 | Dreamstime.com

As you can see from the above, THE STARLESS SEA is a complex tale made up of various threads. The author, Erin Morgenstern (according to her readers) wrote a stunner of a debut novel in THE NIGHT CIRCUS (which I haven’t read) and followed up that triumph with this 500-page volume eight years later.

Unfortunately, most people seem to have been extremely disappointed by this novel and I can’t say I blame them.

First of all, there is no plot. Instead, this novel is like a fairy tale in the sense that things just happen with no motivation, no explanation, and very little cohesion. After a time, I stopped trying to make sense of it, and just let the voices of the narrators waft over me.

Granted, it is beautifully written. But it also has annoying tics. Why for example, is the name of the main character, Zachary Ezra Rawlins always given IN FULL? It was so mind-numbing to hear his FULL NAME repeated and repeated!

As other readers have said, this novel needed a brilliant developmental editor to provide that arc of tension that provokes readers to keep turning the pages. As it stands, THE STARLESS SEA is as cloying, sweet, and viscous as the honey which forms the main metaphor of this novel. Two stars.

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