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Baffled by how this book that's likely older than he is could contain such detail about an incident from his own life, Zachary sets off on an adventure of love, time, and stories that takes him to the Sunken Sea, a mystical haven hidden away from the world. But he soon finds himself over his head as the Sunken Sea is no longer what it once was, and not everyone wants it found.

to:

Baffled by how this book that's likely older than he is could contain such detail about an incident from his own life, Zachary sets off on an adventure of love, time, and stories that takes him to the Sunken Starless Sea, a mystical haven hidden away from the world. But he soon finds himself over his head as the Sunken Starless Sea is no longer what it once was, and not everyone wants it found.



* ChekhovsGunman: Almost every character that appears in the stories woven around Zachary's narrative is revealed to either be a character Zachary has already met (most importantly, [[spoiler: Fate and Time are Mirabel and Keeper]]), or shows up to help Zachary or Dorian.

to:

* ChekhovsGunman: Almost every character that appears in the stories woven around Zachary's narrative is revealed to either be a character Zachary has already met (most importantly, [[spoiler: Fate and Time are Mirabel and the Keeper]]), or shows up to help Zachary or Dorian.



* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea used to be actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall. Mirabel has been going around painting them because Allegra has systematically destroyed the real ones.

to:

* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Starless Sea used to be actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall. Mirabel has been going around painting them because Allegra has systematically destroyed the real ones.


* ChekhovsGun: Very early on, Dorian tells Zachary a story in which the Parliament of Owls tear Fate to pieces, but a mouse is able to steal her heart away and hide it. The heart is very important to the climax of the book [[spoiler: as it allows Mirabel to send Zachary into death, where he can allow the Sea to rise and birth a new Harbor, without him having to ''stay'' dead.]]

to:

* CentralTheme: Everything has to grow and change. It may be painful, but trying to keep a thing in stasis will just destroy it.
* ChekhovsGun: Very early on, Dorian tells Zachary a story in which the Parliament of Owls tear Fate to pieces, but a mouse is able to steal her heart away and hide it. The heart is very important to the climax of the book [[spoiler: as it allows Mirabel to send Zachary into death, where he can allow make the Sea to rise and birth a new Harbor, without him having to ''stay'' dead.]]



* MeetCute: Dorian telling Zachary his story (which holds immense significance for him, as ''Sweet Sorrows'' eventually explains) at the ball.




to:

* WellIntentionedExtremist: [[spoiler: Allegra]] genuinely believes she's doing the right thing. [[spoiler: She had a vision of the Harbor being destroyed, and believes she needs to burn all the doors to preserve it--she doesn't understand and won't listen to the evidence that the Harbor ''has'' to die occasionally, so it can be reborn in a new form, and that she's suffocating it.]]


* AccidentalMurder: Wearied and traumatized by ages spent battling hostile creatures mimicking [[spoiler: Zachary's]] form, [[spoiler: Dorian]] accidentally stabs the real deal through the heart. [[spoiler: Luckily, he happens to have a replacement heart on hand and Zachary gets better.]]



* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea are actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall.

to:

* BigDamnKiss: Zachary and Dorian ''finally'' get theirs [[spoiler: after Dorian is able to resurrect Zachary.]]
* ChekhovsGun: Very early on, Dorian tells Zachary a story in which the Parliament of Owls tear Fate to pieces, but a mouse is able to steal her heart away and hide it. The heart is very important to the climax of the book [[spoiler: as it allows Mirabel to send Zachary into death, where he can allow the Sea to rise and birth a new Harbor, without him having to ''stay'' dead.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Almost every character that appears in the stories woven around Zachary's narrative is revealed to either be a character Zachary has already met (most importantly, [[spoiler: Fate and Time are Mirabel and Keeper]]), or shows up to help Zachary or Dorian.
* NonActionGuy: Zachary is a poet, not a fighter; he describes his role in rescuing Dorian from the Collectors' Club as "sidekicking and getting tied up".
* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea are used to be actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall.
wall. Mirabel has been going around painting them because Allegra has systematically destroyed the real ones.
* ResurrectiveImmortality: [[spoiler: Mirabel]] has this, which causes some heartache, as [[spoiler: her]] true love is stuck with TheSlowPath and has repeatedly watched [[spoiler: her]] die. [[spoiler: This time around, however, she's finally lucked into a body that's immortal.]]
* StarCrossedLovers: Fate and Time are ''literally'' star-crossed, as the actual stars declared that they couldn't be together because it was causing the rest of the universe too much trouble, and had Fate murdered to ensure they would be kept apart. Simon and Eleanor are also this, as they were only able to be together for a little while before they got lost outside of time. [[spoiler: By the end of the book, both couples are reunited properly.]]
* TrapIsTheOnlyOption: Mirabel is fairly blasé about the fact that the Collectors' Club have set a trap to get Zachary's book with Dorian as the bait--she basically says they'll just go ahead and spring it, since ''not'' rescuing Dorian isn't an option.


-> ''"Once upon a time, Time fell in love with Fate."''

to:

-> ''"Once upon a time, ''"Once, very long ago, Time fell in love with Fate."''



One day, Zachary Ezra Rawlings came across a realistically-painted door in an alleyway behind his mother's fortune-telling shop. Despite feeling an urge to try and open it, the more rational part of him decided it would be safer not too, so as to avoid the disappointment of finding that it was just a really nice painting. The door was gone the next day.

to:

One day, Zachary Ezra Rawlings Rawlins came across a realistically-painted door in an alleyway behind his mother's fortune-telling shop. Despite feeling an urge to try and open it, the more rational part of him decided it would be safer not too, to, so as to avoid the disappointment of finding that it was just a really nice painting. The door was gone the next day.



* AllJustADream: [[DefiedTrope Defied]], a creature of the deep tries to convince Zachary at one point that he is HappilyMarried and living a mundane life with Dorian, and prone to hallucinations and an inability to tell reality from fantasy when his meds stop working. Zachary doesn't remotely fall for it, even though he isn't sure what actually ''is'' going on at that point he knows it isn't real.
* BecomingTheMask: The more Zachary decides to play along with the narrative as it unfolds, the more the book's writing refers to him as "The son of a fortune-teller" rather than by his name.

to:

* AllJustADream: [[DefiedTrope Defied]], a creature of the deep tries to convince Zachary at one point that he is HappilyMarried ArcSymbol: [[RuleOfThree Three]], in this case: bees, keys, and living a mundane life with Dorian, and prone to hallucinations and an inability to tell reality from fantasy when his meds stop working. Zachary doesn't remotely fall for it, even though he isn't sure what actually ''is'' going on at that point he knows it isn't real.
* BecomingTheMask: The more Zachary decides to play along with the narrative as it unfolds, the more the book's writing refers to him as "The son of a fortune-teller" rather than by his name.
swords.



* BlueAndOrangeMorality: [[spoiler:The bees that create fictional settings,]] aren't particularly malicious or evil despite directly causing events both good and bad. They simply do what it is in their nature.
* BookcasePassage: Where else would you hide secret passages in a mystical library?
* CassandraTruth: One of the ways the Starless Sea has remained secret is that the truth sounds too ridiculous to easily reveal to the world. Allegra fears that in the era of smartphones and social media, it will rapidly become too easy to prove its existence.
* CoolGate: The painted doors.
* CovertGroup: The "Collector's Club."
* ExistentialHorror: Zachary asks himself some disturbing questions after he finds a book that perfectly narrates an unwitnessed event in his own personal past.
* FracturedFairyTale: Several examples; most prominently [[spoiler:The ''entire Starless Sea'']] is one.
* IdiotBall: Drinking tea from someone who has just kidnapped you and threatened to wipe your memories is not a good idea. Mirabel calls Zachary out on it.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Allegra is apparently capable of inducing this. [[spoiler:People who stay in the Starless Sea long enough may have this happen to them over time.]]
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Lots of examples, but most prominently, when Zachary starts describing the chapters in the book immediately beforehand.
* LotusEaterMachine: Some of the creatures in the deep act this way.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Zachary is attracted to Dorian the first time they speak.
* MagicalLand: The Starless Sea.
* MagicLibrarian: The Keeper.
* TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife: Kat breaks things off with her girlfriend because of how much time she spends investigating Zachary's disappearance. She doesn't really seem to mind.
* NarniaTime: Different areas of the Starless Sea flow at different rates through time. It's not impossible to accidentally blunder into someone who was born hundreds of years ago.
* NiceToTheWaiter: Zachary sends friendly messages to the kitchen on occasion.
* TheQuest: Zachary explicitly refers to himself as being on a quest, later on, complete with other video-game derived terminology, like referring to his bag as his inventory.



* RealityEnsues: When an adult abruptly disappears with no immediate evidence of foul play, there is no massive manhunt, in-depth investigation, or public panic. The police do some routine inquiries regarding the possibilities of suicide or homicide and, if they don't find any evidence to suggest an investigation is appropriate, largely shrug and dismiss it. Adults disappear all the time and aren't required to tell their friends or family where they've gone.
** No matter what [[spoiler:Fate herself]] has intended for you to do, no matter what your cosmic role in a story is, you don't magically know how to wield a sword simply because you picked one up.
* SecretDiary: The last chapter is Kat's own secret diary, which she keeps because [[spoiler: Allegra's men are relentlessly destroying all the digital data she tries to keep of her search.]]
* SecretWar: By the time Zachary enters the story, the Starless Sea is being fought over between Allegra and Mirabel.
* SigilSpam: Bees, swords, crowns, feathers, hearts, and keys. All six of them, in varying combinations, are ''everywhere'' in the Starless Sea.
* ShoutOut: Lots. ''Lots.'' To works ranging from classical literature to modern video games.
* UnPerson: Allegra's people sometimes resort to this. [[spoiler:When they try to do this to Zachary, it doesn't work. They can hack emails and phone records to delete messages and references to a person, but they can't hack individuals' memories or written records that they don't have physical access to.]]
* YearInsideHourOutside: Happens to Simon and Eleanor, to Eleanor's regret.
** Also happens to [[spoiler:Zachary himself; a few days-or-weeks pass from his perspective, but the last chapter reveals that at least a year and a half passed outside.]]

to:

* RealityEnsues: When an adult abruptly disappears with no immediate evidence of foul play, there is no massive manhunt, in-depth investigation, or public panic. The police do some routine inquiries regarding the possibilities of suicide or homicide and, if they don't find any evidence to suggest an investigation is appropriate, largely shrug and dismiss it. Adults disappear all the time and aren't required to tell their friends or family where they've gone.
** No matter what [[spoiler:Fate herself]] has intended for you to do, no matter what your cosmic role in a story is, you don't magically know how to wield a sword simply because you picked one up.
* SecretDiary: The last chapter is Kat's own secret diary, which she keeps because [[spoiler: Allegra's men are relentlessly destroying all the digital data she tries to keep of her search.]]
* SecretWar: By the time Zachary enters the story, the Starless Sea is being fought over between Allegra and Mirabel.
* SigilSpam: Bees, swords, crowns, feathers, hearts, and keys. All six of them, in varying combinations, are ''everywhere'' in the Starless Sea.
* ShoutOut: Lots. ''Lots.'' To works ranging from classical literature to modern video games.
* UnPerson: Allegra's people sometimes resort to this. [[spoiler:When they try to do this to Zachary, it doesn't work. They can hack emails and phone records to delete messages and references to a person, but they can't hack individuals' memories or written records that they don't have physical access to.]]
* YearInsideHourOutside: Happens to Simon and Eleanor, to Eleanor's regret.
** Also happens to [[spoiler:Zachary himself; a few days-or-weeks pass from his perspective, but the last chapter reveals that at least a year and a half passed outside.]]



to:

* YearInsideHourOutside: Happens to Simon and Eleanor, to Eleanor's regret.
** Also happens to [[spoiler:Zachary himself; a few days-or-weeks pass from his perspective, but the last chapter reveals that at least a year and a half passed outside.]]


* AllJustADream: [[DefiedTrope Defied]], a creature of the deep tries to convince Zachary at one point that he is HappilyMarried and living a mundane life with Dorian, and prone to hallucinations and an inability to tell reality from fantasy when his meds stop working. Zachary doesn't remotely fall for it, even though he isn't sure what actually ''is'' going on at that point he knows it isn't real.



* IdiotBall: Drinking tea from someone who has just kidnapped you and threatened to wipe your memories is not a good idea. Mirabel calls Zachary out on it.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Allegra is apparently capable of inducing this. [[spoiler:People who stay in the Starless Sea long enough may have this happen to them over time.]]



* LotusEaterMachine: Some of the creatures in the deep act this way.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Zachary is attracted to Dorian the first time they speak.



* NiceToTheWaiter: Zachary sends friendly messages to the kitchen on occasion.
* TheQuest: Zachary explicitly refers to himself as being on a quest, later on, complete with other video-game derived terminology, like referring to his bag as his inventory.



* RealityEnsues: When an adult abruptly disappears with no immediate evidence of foul play, there is no massive manhunt, in-depth investigation, or public panic. The police do some routine inquiries regarding the possibilities of suicide or homicide and, if they don't find any evidence to suggest an investigation is appropriate, largely shrug and dismiss it. Adults disappear all the time and aren't required to tell their friends or family where they've gone.
** No matter what [[spoiler:Fate herself]] has intended for you to do, no matter what your cosmic role in a story is, you don't magically know how to wield a sword simply because you picked one up.




to:

* UnPerson: Allegra's people sometimes resort to this. [[spoiler:When they try to do this to Zachary, it doesn't work. They can hack emails and phone records to delete messages and references to a person, but they can't hack individuals' memories or written records that they don't have physical access to.]]

Added DiffLines:

* BlueAndOrangeMorality: [[spoiler:The bees that create fictional settings,]] aren't particularly malicious or evil despite directly causing events both good and bad. They simply do what it is in their nature.


Added DiffLines:

* CassandraTruth: One of the ways the Starless Sea has remained secret is that the truth sounds too ridiculous to easily reveal to the world. Allegra fears that in the era of smartphones and social media, it will rapidly become too easy to prove its existence.
* CoolGate: The painted doors.


Added DiffLines:

* ExistentialHorror: Zachary asks himself some disturbing questions after he finds a book that perfectly narrates an unwitnessed event in his own personal past.


Added DiffLines:

* MagicalLand: The Starless Sea.
* MagicLibrarian: The Keeper.


Added DiffLines:

* NarniaTime: Different areas of the Starless Sea flow at different rates through time. It's not impossible to accidentally blunder into someone who was born hundreds of years ago.


* BecomingTheMask: The more Zachary decides to play along with the narrative as it unfolds, the more the book's writing refers to him as "The son of a fortune-teller" rather than by his name.



* BookcasePassage: Where else would you hide secret passages in a mystical library?
* CovertGroup: The "Collector's Club."
* FracturedFairyTale: Several examples; most prominently [[spoiler:The ''entire Starless Sea'']] is one.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Lots of examples, but most prominently, when Zachary starts describing the chapters in the book immediately beforehand.
* TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife: Kat breaks things off with her girlfriend because of how much time she spends investigating Zachary's disappearance. She doesn't really seem to mind.




to:

* SecretDiary: The last chapter is Kat's own secret diary, which she keeps because [[spoiler: Allegra's men are relentlessly destroying all the digital data she tries to keep of her search.]]
* SecretWar: By the time Zachary enters the story, the Starless Sea is being fought over between Allegra and Mirabel.
* SigilSpam: Bees, swords, crowns, feathers, hearts, and keys. All six of them, in varying combinations, are ''everywhere'' in the Starless Sea.
* ShoutOut: Lots. ''Lots.'' To works ranging from classical literature to modern video games.


[[caption-width-right:350:[[ArcWords''There are three paths. This is one of them.'']]]]

to:

[[caption-width-right:350:[[ArcWords''There [[caption-width-right:350:[[ArcWords There are three paths. This is one of them.'']]]]
]]]]


[[caption-width-right:350:some caption text]]

to:

[[caption-width-right:350:some caption text]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[ArcWords''There are three paths. This is one of them.'']]]]

Added DiffLines:

[[quoteright:350:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the_starless_sea_1_0.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:some caption text]]


* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea are actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall.

to:

* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea are actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall.wall.

----

Added DiffLines:

* BenevolentGenie: The kitchen in the Starless Sea is a low-power version; while it can only, for the most part, provide things a kitchen plausibly could, it can provide ''any'' such things; it is also extremely good at interpreting requests, including in ways you may not have realized you needed.
** Among other things, when Ezra is poisoned, Mirabel asks it for an antidote, and not only is it able to provide a suspiciously-effective home remedy, it realizes that Dorian was poisoned as well and provides one that will affect both.
** Later, when Ezra is confused and depressed and wondering if everything is real, he sends it a note asking it as much; it responds in the affirmative... as well as with tea and cupcakes to cheer him up.

Added DiffLines:

-> ''"Once upon a time, Time fell in love with Fate."''

''The Starless Sea'' is a romantic fantasy novel by Creator/ErinMorgenstern published in 2019. The novel's formatting is unique in that it intersperses the chapters that directly follow the main story with excerpts from in-universe works.

One day, Zachary Ezra Rawlings came across a realistically-painted door in an alleyway behind his mother's fortune-telling shop. Despite feeling an urge to try and open it, the more rational part of him decided it would be safer not too, so as to avoid the disappointment of finding that it was just a really nice painting. The door was gone the next day.

Fourteen years later, Zachary is a grad student at an unidentified university in Vermont studying Emerging Media (focusing on video game design). One day, while exploring the University Library looking for something interesting to read, he comes across an ornately designed but otherwise unmarked book. It has no listed author, but the title page reads ''Sweet Sorrows''. Intrigued, he begins to read it and finds that one of the chapters perfectly narrates the day he discovered the door behind his mother's shop.

Baffled by how this book that's likely older than he is could contain such detail about an incident from his own life, Zachary sets off on an adventure of love, time, and stories that takes him to the Sunken Sea, a mystical haven hidden away from the world. But he soon finds himself over his head as the Sunken Sea is no longer what it once was, and not everyone wants it found.

----
!! This work provides examples of:
* PortalPicture: While most doors to the Sunken Sea are actual doors, Zachary encounters one that's just painted onto a wall.

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