Top critical review
I really, really wanted to like this book...
Reviewed in the United States on November 9, 2019
I work in a library and I love book-related fantasy, so I bought a copy of The Starless Sea on Amazon, rather than wait for a copy via the reserve list at the library. The two stars I give this product are for the prompt Amazon delivery and for the product arriving in fine shape.
As far as the story itself is concerned, my advice to potential readers is check it out at the library first. Then if you really like it, buy a copy. The book started off fairly well, but soon bogged down and devolved into endless repeat descriptions of keys hanging all over stuff, book pages hanging all over stuff, candle wax dripping all over stuff, honey pouring all over stuff, room-furnishing descriptions and lots and lots of alcohol consumption. The main character's liquor and high-carb food preferences were fine for maybe a single explanation, but after myriad references to sidecars, wine, bourbon, single malt whiskey, beer, etc., etc., and various characters' drinking habits, I was colossally bored.
The parts of the book that I did find interesting, such as the possible crossover effects between video games and books in the imaginal realm, were underdeveloped, as were many of the creatures that just seemed to appear and disappear randomly. The basically do-nothing Owls were the worst of the lot. The Owls could have been left out of the story entirely without changing a thing-- they were an almost totally untapped potential.
I enjoyed the Rabbit-Girl and the interweaving of the various individual stories, but after everything started cross-referencing everything else, the link-ups became very predictable.
Basically, what this book needed and did not get was tight and extensive editing. As it stands, it is basically 500-plus pages of word-salad, pretty and poetic in a few places but mostly mind-numbingly repetitive. I am donating my copy to my library to help shorten the reserve list and hopefully save some folks their hard-earned pocket-money.