I was a huge fan of the Night Circus, so I was ecstatic when the lovely faintingviolet shared her copy of the Starless Sea with me. To give too much of the plot away takes all the joy out of reading this story, but the baseline is that there’s a magical library hidden underground accessible by doorways above. The nature through which patrons find these doors varies to fate, and in recent years, someone’s been closing all the doors. At least until a grad student named Zachery stumbles across a book from the magical library that was never meant to be taken to the surface. Part fable, part adventure story, Morgenstern heavily utilizes colors and symbols to create her imaginary world. Also like the Night Circus, which is told from the POV of several different characters, Morgenstern uses several different book chapters from her magically invented library to tell the story of the Starless Sea. It was one of the things I most loved about the plotting of this book. From chapter to chapter, she makes you wonder how all these seemly disparate pieces fit together to form the backdrop to her main story, and it’s a wonderfully enjoyable journey to embark on (both literally and figuratively).
Morgenstern’s prose is saturated with color. To give away any details takes away from the fun of this read, so I’ll suffice it to say that thematically, the story focuses heavily around the golden, viscousness of honey. While not as thematic as say, “the Yellow Wallpaper,” in connection to the bingo square, the colors of gold and yellow (honey, bees, keys) are exceptionally important to the symbolism of this story and I walked away from this novel feeling warm and golden at the closing.
My only issue with this book was that Morgenstern’s symbolic color saturation almost becomes too much in the later half of the story. I almost felt like I had description fatigue from the level of colorized detail, specifically in the library itself, but this was a very tiny critique for an otherwise amazing second novel. If you liked the Night Circus, I would definitely give this a read!
Bingo Square: Yellow