DNF REVIEW: This Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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Title: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Pages: 498

Release Date: November 5th 2019
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy, Adult, LGBTQIA+
Goodreads Rating:  4.19 (of 6691 ratings)


I was like that girl in the one story that, instead of opening a door to a nice, new world, I fell down a dirty, dark hole. I knew I was going as an underdog – I’m not an adult fiction kind of gal; Morgenstern’s first book put me into a four month reading slump; and this type of fantasy just straight up confuses me. However, I was ready to be victorious!! Until, well, I wasn’t.

📌 I was confused?? I mean, there were parts that I did understand, and I would feel like I would understand them…only for them not to seemingly matter or never crop up again. By the time I got around to trying to figure something out, I found myself no longer caring how a bee mattered in the grand scheme of things. NOTHING SEEMED TO MATTER OR MAKE SENSE. Sure, I’m sure it made sense eventually (I have some doubts, though, since Morgenstern had a lot to put together). It’s like the bone and the dog. Morgenstern held the bone out so far for so long that no matter my desire to have it, I was done and out.

📌 Everything…felt…like…it…was…going…at…a…glacial…pace. I read 174 pages of this novel, and I felt like I accomplished exactly zero percentage of anything. When I finally went to mark the “I’m Finished” button on Goodreads and saw that I had, in fact, only been reading it for 4 days, I think I lost it for a second because I felt like I had been reading this book for like ten years.

Me @ “Started Reading Date”

📌 I felt invested in nothing. The characters were okay. Zachary was pretty chill. I didn’t mind him. Everyone else that had appeared just felt like background noise with no discernible characteristics. The storyline was pretty cool at parts – I always more invested in the moments with Zachary but some of the random stories were intriguing. In the end, they weren’t enough to keep me going, though.

📌 I felt that the writing in this story wasn’t as great as The Night Circus. I’m not the biggest fan of stories with really, really intense and flowery writing. However, I was willing to be immersed into the beauty of this story. I just never felt the magic, though? The Night Circus did create lush descriptions – and while I might have griped they were too long – I just never got the same from here? I never felt truly transported. Some of the stories really did feel like fairytales or folktales, but I just wanted more

snow whiteOy, I knew that I might have a hard time with this one, but I didn’t think it would be this hard. Despite how hard I really tried with this one, I had to stop at 174 pages in. I think people that really love an immersive and surreal adult fantasy – and that have a lot more patience – will find this a masterful and lush read. However, this girl is tired. A Snow White rating, since I do the DNF. 

representation: (Didn’t make it far enough to identify all)
content warnings: (Didn’t make it far enough to identify all)


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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!


28 thoughts on “DNF REVIEW: This Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  1. This was such a good review because I understand what you mean. It took me so long to read this, and I had a hard time feeling like I was accomplishing anything with my reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh no, this is sad to read. ☹️ I haven’t read the book but I have a bit of a high expectation for it since most of the stuff I’ve read about it was good. I understand what you mean when a book that you’ve been reading for just a couple of days feels like an eternity! Haha. It’s good that you’ve stopped and did not let yourself go thru the agony of reading the rest of the book if you no longer see it working for you. ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I’m also in the minority of people who didn’t fall head over heels in love with The Night Circus. I liked it well enough but everyone was crazy about it and I just couldn’t see why. That’s why I’ve been so hesitant to pick this one up. The hype is INSANE and yeah, it’s a pretty gorgeous cover (all the special eds!) and the premise sounds great. I just really don’t want to be disappointed 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And YES. My friend was fawning over Night Circus and literally wouldn’t let me leave without borrowing her copy of it. I could see elements that were done nicely and beautifully, but I certainly never got the hype. And yes!! I totally fell into the pandemonium for it, and those special editions were so great. I definitely wish you luck, because I wasn’t fully invested in it and I ended up like this. D:


  4. Oh no, so sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this one! I’ve heard such mixed things about it, haha, I don’t know what to think!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to think it over some more, but as of right now, probably not. There are a lot of other books higher up on my TBR!


  5. A woman called Mandy actually recommended my The Night Circus and I really enjoyed it! Despite all the lengthy descriptions it wasn’t wasn’t hard to get immersed into it. I’ve very sorry that The Starless Sea let you down. I don’t really like Adult Fantasy but I was definetly going to give this one a go! Really good review and I’m glad that you were honest 😊
    Erin x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if you really enjoyed her first one, you should enjoy this one as well! It definitely has her trademark characteristics, and it does feel far more accessible for an adult fantasy. And lol, the two Mandys have definitely disagreed on this one, lol. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy it, but this is a great review! I’m a bit dubious about whether to start reading her books or not because I’m not entirely sure if I’m into the super-flowery prose that people mention in their reviews. I once read a glowing review of this book that was incredibly purple, and though that review was beautifully written in itself, I don’t think I could handle an entire novel like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And in my experience, you really have to enjoy the flowery prose. I can enjoy a little bit here and there, but mostly, I enjoy straight to the point kind – and her books really have so much. I would say it easily adds 100+ pages to the book with the descriptions. But so many people love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This makes me nervous because I also struggled with The Night Circus. I read it rather quickly but like, I didn’t get it. The magic of it really just confused me and I had a hard time picturing a lot of the features of the circus…That being said, her writing is really beautiful and I still am going to attempt it.. I just worry that I too will be the lone (ish) wolf in the world that didn’t love it, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no. I’ve been hearing mixed reactions – some find it to be better or worst than The Night Circus. Personally for me, I found the aspects that I had enjoyed in Night Circus, seemed to be lacking in this one enough to keep me going. I really hope you end up faring better with it. But if you end up not enjoying it, I will still be in your camp, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I stayed away from this book because I did not love the author’s writing style after the Night Circus, it’s very dense and you feel like you’ve read for hours and you’re in the same spot where you started. I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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