Erin Morgenstern, author of the international bestseller The Night Circus, is publishing a "magical, timeless and wholly original" love story in November next year with Harvill Secker.
Set in a secret underground world, The Starless Sea is described as containing all the hallmarks of her 2011-published novel The Night Circus (Harvill Secker), such as magic, mystery, and inimitable imagination, and bringing them to life in a richly layered and entirely new story.
Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Richard Pine at InkWell Management. She called The Starless Sea "exhilarating and glorious", promising "nothing else like it will be published next year".
Its predecessor, The Night Circus, sold 247,502 copies through Nielsen Bookscan for £1.6m and, according to Vintage, over 3 million copies worldwide. It was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Galaxy Book Awards and has been translated into 37 languages to date. It is currently in development with Lionsgate as both a feature film and stage play.
In The Starless Sea, out 5th November 2019, Morgenstern tells the story of a Vermont-based graduate student called Zachary who discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. His curiosity is piqued when between its pages he finds a story from his own childhood, leading him to uncover a series of clues (a bee, a key, and a sword) and, via a masquerade party in New York, a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
A place of "lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead", soon Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm - relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive - and also those who are intent on its destruction.
The blurb continues: "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."
Morgenstern commented: "When I started working on my new novel, I thought I was writing a book about books but as it turns out I was writing a book about stories. Stories and choices and change and also time and fate and video games. It took quite a while to get it all to fit in a single book, even down to the bees."
Foley said: "I could not let go of Zachary’s story until the very last, intensely moving, page and so many scenes and characters are vividly imprinted in my memory. Erin’s imaginative powers are unparalleled and this is a truly immersive, epic book about storytelling itself. After the wonder of The Night Circus, it’s incredible to have a novel that even exceeds that one in its flair, richness and ingenuity."
Doubleday, an imprint of Penguin Random House US, and Doubleday Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, will simultaneously publish The Starless Sea on 5th November 2019.