Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

StardustStardust by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I reread this as part of a book club, and we also watched the movie. By all rights, the fact that I read a paperback last time, and I read an illustrated edition this time should mean that I'd add a star. But this time around, I was more aware of the flaws.

Stardust is a new fairy tale that takes place during Victorian times. It's about Tristran Thorn, and it starts with his odd origins when his father meets a woman with furry, pointed ears at the Market, the one time every nine years people are allowed through the gap in the wall that gives his hometown its name. The wall separates Faerie from the mortal realm, and the rules are different on either side.

One night, Tristran promises the woman he's in love with to fetch a falling star. He sets off, encountering enemies and allies, and finds the star, who's furious to be treated as a thing. She's the daughter of the moon, and has only watched the goings-on of the world from far above. Meanwhile, a witch wants to cut out her heart to eat for its vitality, and the star is carrying the key to Stormhold's succession.

The book is highly entertaining, though not as quick-paced as the movie. There's no ticking clock, and Tristran is gone for months. Unfortunately, there are also a number of fairy tale conventions that go unexplained. They're simply "the rules," or how it is, and waved off without further explanation. Tristran grasps things instinctively which could've made a good point for the reader to figure out how this fairyland works. So readers looking for a world that's fully explained to them will be disappointed.

If you've seen the movie and thought you were getting the whole story, I recommend you give this a read, because they are two different entities. I strongly recommend you get your hands on an edition illustrated by Charles Vess, because the illustrations are just gorgeous.

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