standalone reviews | the night circus, the starless sea – erin morgenstern

Hello! Erin Morgenstern’s a wonderful storyteller. With both her books highly praised way before I picked them up, I had lots of expectations and I’m glad to report that I wasn’t disappointed at all. Hope you enjoy the reviews for the standalone novels!

Navigate through this post with the titles below:
🎪 The Night Circus | 🐝 The Starless Sea

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


Standalone
Published September 13th 2011 by Doubleday
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magical Realism

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 


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Le Cirque des Rêves

Beautiful, elegant, and mystifying. Yet, there’s an undertone of danger and mischief surrounding the circus. Unlimited sights to see, unique tents to explore, multiple shows to watch, and delicious food to eat. Le Cirque des Rêves is the place to be.

Some chapters jumped into the past, showing the creation of the circus. Other chapters followed the rest of the characters that aren’t Celia or Marco, the two young magicians locked in a duel. The circus is a mystery. No one knew how it was built. One day it wasn’t there, the next it was.

“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.” 

Though pitted against one another in this competition, Marco and Celia turned out to be complimentary of one another. They are both brilliant with enchantment and illusions. Erin Morgenstern’s writing beautifully illustrated the magic within the circus. While Celia’s the one putting up shows to the public, the silent behind-the-scene person is Marco. I loved watching them duel, trying to one-up the other with better, stronger magic.

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Navigate through this post with the titles below:
🎪 The Night Circus | 🐝 The Starless Sea

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern


Standalone
Published November 5th 2019 by Harvill Secker
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Magical Realism
Rep: LGBT

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis:

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.


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At the start of every chapter, there’s a mini story surrounding the myths and legends of the Starless Sea. Though it was confusing at first, as these mini-stories never seem to connect directly with the main story, things gradually made sense. Erin Morgenstern is a story weaver. She layered stories upon stories that seemed distant and parallel but are in fact, intricately linked together. She has delicately and expertly interwoven storylines of different characters together. The result is this beautiful masterpiece.

“Once, very long ago, Time fell in love with Fate.”

Since it’s an extensively descriptive book, it took me a little longer to get through The Starless Sea. That being said, Erin Morgenstern built the world brilliantly and created delightful characters that are destined for something greater.

Zachary is just a regular guy before he stumbled upon an unregistered book in his university library. Once he started reading Sweet Sorrows, it hooked him. He couldn’t stop and was soon swept away by three symbols: the bee, the key, and the sword. Curiosity won over his mundane life and Zachary Ezra Rawlins went on an adventure to discover the Starless Sea. I could feel Zachary’s love for books, passion for video games, and thirst for adventures. However, he’s the kind that goes with the flow without making major decisions of his own.

Time played a cruel trick. The love story between Fate and Time was truly a tale of patience. Dorian and Zachary’s romance was subtle and gradual. Their feelings weren’t explicitly shown but the attraction was there.

“We are all stardust and stories.” 

The whole place was fascinating. A place where people can enter and exit different rooms, and feel different things. A place that is dominated by books and other magical items as compared to humans. The cats added a lazy vibe to the whole place. It’s somewhere one can never fully understand, where time worked differently and hallways consistently changed. A place where one can explore forever but never truly know its nature.

I fell in love with this secret underground space filled with magic, myths, and stories (and cats) that can only be found if you’re daring enough to walk through the doors. This wonder of a book elegantly combined the art of storytelling with adventuring and love.

The overall story of The Starless Sea reveals itself gradually, page by page, with lots of care in developing the foundation of the setting. While Zachary explored this mysterious place filled with memories and books, rarely were there any dire moments.

“Strange, isn’t it? To love a book. When the words on the pages become so precious that they feel like part of your own history because they are.”

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