When the owner of the local bookstore/ my boss hands me a book and says I have to read it I take the book with a certain amount of reverence. Being a part of the literary community (yes, I realize how snobbish that can sound) means that I had heard of The Starless Sea but didn’t know much about the actual plot. I could give a few descriptors about the characters and the relationships, but nothing about the storyline. Funnily enough even after I’ve read it this is still true.
It reminded me of a movie that has amazing cinematography but little true development. The images in this book and the wording used to portray them are amazing, but I honestly can’t say what really happened. I think it might be beneficial to read it again to see if there is a deeper meaning I was just missing or if it really was just a pretty surface with pretty words.
“These doors will sing. Silent siren songs for those who seek what lies behind them. For those who feel homesick for a place they’ve never been to. Those who seek even if they do not know what (or where) it is that they are seeking. Those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.”
Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed the heck out of this book. Every minute I spent reading it was full of fun and excitement as I wondered where it was all heading but not worrying because the journey was worth the time. Then it came to an end and I had to wonder what it all meant. Part of me feels that is a good thing: it’s good to not always have exact answers and complete understandings. Yet another part of me yearns for that aha moment where everything falls into place and all is right in the world if only for a moment. As you can see I’m very conflicted at the moment and possibly always will be.
At the end I can’t tell you what happened. I can’t recall in my memory what happened to all of our heroic characters or the world that so encompassed them. I know it was a happy ending, but I can tell you little else. It reminds me of the Matrix in a way. You can choose to open a door into another world and have the potential to be happier than ever before or you can ignore the door and continue on in simplistic mediocrity. The choice is yours.
The Starless Sea is eminently quotable. Lines to live and love by, but if you like a clearly constructed plot this is not the book for you. If I can manage to let go of my preconceived notions of what a book ought to be (plot!) then I can truthfully say this book was amazing. If I focus on the words and the world-building I feel like I’m on a happy cloud of literary love.
“Everyone wants the stars. Everyone wishes to grasp that which exists out of reach. To hold the extraordinary in their hands and keep the remarkable in their pockets.”
Much of the reading has the feel of literary camaraderie with a pat on the back to let you know it’s okay that you read incessantly and sometimes it’s nice to feel understood in that way.
“Reading a book four times in one day is perfectly normal behavior.”
“Having a physical reaction to a lack of book is not unusual.”
I was attached to the uniqueness of the storyline (what storyline there was) and the characters. It’s hard not to love a woman who goes to a masquerade as a fancy queenly version of Max from Where the Wild Things Are. The Starless Sea read like a beautiful dream of literary possibility where everyone loved books just as much as I do and are constantly being told they’re special for being readers. It didn’t feel like a story so much as a love affair with the written word. It is up to you if that sounds worthwhile or not.