The B&N Podcast: Erin Morgenstern on Spinning Dreamworlds

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper.

Our guest on today’s episode is the novelist Erin Morgenstern, who joins us to talk about her new novel The Starless Sea. Every now and again a writer comes along with a story that seems to want to resist classification — a book that slips between the subjects and genres we tend to slot our fiction into, and there’s no better example than Morgenstern’s best-selling 2011 debut The Night Circus, in which a deadly contest between two magicians is played out between their talented proteges, who fall in love despite their mentors schemes. Dreamlike yet firmly grounded in its characters, heartbreaking yet funny, and manifestly unique, The Night Circus defied any classification other than addictive. It’s no surprise that readers were eager to learn what it’s author would choose for her next act, and with The Starless Sea we finally get to return to a world created Erin Morgenstern’s thrilling imagination. She joined B&N’s Miwa Messer by phone to talk about her new story, in which a strange volume leads a student into a labyrinth of discovery.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Circus, a timeless love story set in a secret underground world—a place of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues—a bee, a key, and a sword—that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians—it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

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