At the moment I am looking after the Children’s Department at Hatchards and starting to write the shop’s Christmas catalogue. I have filled the children’s tables with books I like, a mixture of old favourites and new discoveries. For the catalogue I am being sent lots of new exciting books which will be published in the autumn. Everything was under control until the arrival of a proof copy of The Starless Sea, Erin Morganstern’s new novel.
Her previous book, The Night Circus, was published in 2011 and is one of my favourite books. When I opened the package containing The Starless Sea, I knew everything else was going to have to go on hold. I wanted to read this, regardless of what I should be doing. Emails, book proposals, poetry research and even boats were pushed to one side. This week’s posts will be books and boats, combined.
In The Starless Sea there are doors in this world which lead to another below, with limitless layers extending deep into the earth. Here space does not behave normally; in the Harbor upon the shores of the Starless Sea there is a seemingly endless library of tunnels and rooms in which stories are stored. Old and new, some are in books, others buried so deep that they are left ‘loose and wild’. This world descends deeper and deeper below the surface of the earth, with the Sea rising and falling between the layers and the Harbor adjusting its position accordingly. The characters move between the layers and worlds, their stories meeting and merging in a way which is complicated yet magically logical (if such a thing is possible). A story, a sword and man are lost. The book concerns the quest to find them but there is much more: love, death, excitement and, above all, wonder. The story and its setting match perfectly.
Having just finished reading it, more than anything, I would like to turn back to the beginning and read this book again. But I can’t, I’m already behind with everything else. Last week a child came into Hatchards with a paperback Harry Potter, I think it was The Deathly Hallows. Clutched in her hand it was bent and battered, having obviously been read several times. I have often thought I would like to set aside a year just to reread books. The Starless Sea would be one of the first I’d go back to; I feel I’ve missed much which a slower reading (and a little hindsight) would reveal. Perhaps one day.
The Starless Sea is published on 5th November – the perfect time to sit by the fire immersed in a book. Buy it or borrow it, read it slowly and enter an enchanting world.
And here is a boat, Number 11.
Erin Morganstern, The Starless Sea will be published on 5th November, as a beautiful hardback, £14.99. As always please order or buy it, when the time comes, from your local bookshop. You’d miss it if it closed.