Stardust

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Compiled illustrated edition.

Stardust, later titled, Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie, is an adult fairy tale written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. It was originally published as a series of four fully illustrated books released through 1997, then compiled into a single book in 1998. A novel form without illustrations was first published on 1999-02-01, and, in 2007, it was adapted into a film.

The book is set in 1839 in the fictional British town of Wall which borders the magical land of Faerie. Every nine years, people from Faerie are allowed to enter Wall to hold a festival and sell their strange wares. The story follows Tristran Thorn, a teenager eager to prove his devotion to the town's most beautiful girl, who says she will give him his heart's desire if he would retrieve to her a fallen star. Thirsty and naive, Tristran enters the forbidden land of Faerie to find it, only to discover the enchanted land is quite hazardous, and the fallen star is not what it appears to be.

Personal

Own?No
Read?Audiobook read by Neil Gaiman.
Finished2022-09-23

After reading a couple of Gaiman's books, I had grown very fond of his writing style and sought out this book, but couldn't find a first edition hardcover anywhere. I saw that it was being made into a film in 2007, but I refused to watch it, not wanting to spoil the book. I gave up trying to find an original printing, but, one day, I came across the audiobook read by the author, so I decided to read it. I very much enjoyed it, and, while researching it for this page, discovered it was originally printed as a fully illustrated book, which I now intend to read as well.

Review

Overall:

Rating-8.svg

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • All of the main characters, and even many of the side characters, are interesting and complex.
  • The book does a great job with incorporating a variety of fairy tales and nursery rhymes while also being mysterious and tense. The writing style isn't nearly as dark as Gaiman's other works, but it never feels like a children's book either.
  • I love the idea of the brothers trying to out-wit and kill each other to find the topaz first as their dead ghostly brothers observe and comment on their actions.
  • Gaiman writes passionate love-making scenes that are erotic yet tasteful.
  • The visual descriptions of Una and Yvaine are fantastic.
  • The play on words of "two Mondays come together," was clever and unexpected.

Bad

  • Although I enjoyed the final confrontation of Yvaine and the Witch Queen, I didn't care for how little interaction there was until that point. A more interesting confrontation would have been preferred. Her death, which she prophesizes will come from a squirrel burying an acorn and so forth, is mentioned a couple times throughout the book, but it seems to have been forgotten half way through.
  • I would also have liked some closure with the hairy man, and perhaps a bit more information about the man in the top hat.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Covers

Gaiman's publishers frequently put out new covers for his work, and, each region has its own art, so this is only a sample of the many variations.

Representation

Bechdel test?TrueThere are several women who occasionally talk about the star.
Strong female character?TrueMost of the female characters are strong, important to the story, and/or see growth.
Strong non-white character?FailThere are some non-white characters, but they're inconsequential.
Queer character?FailI don't remember there being any queer characters.


Quotes

— This section contains spoilers! —

  • There was a moment of hesitation, and then her mouth opened against his, and her tongue slid into his mouth, and he was, under the strange stars, utterly, irrevocably, lost.
  • He was painfully shy, which, as is often the manner of the painfully shy, he overcompensated for by being too loud at the wrong times.
  • "Every lover is, in his heart, a madman, and, in his head, a minstrel."
  • Anyone who believes what a cat tells him deserves all he gets.
  • "The little folk dare anything," said his friend. "And they talks a lot of nonsense. But they talks an awful lot of sense, as well. You listen to 'em at your peril, and you ignore 'em at your peril, too."
  • "So, having found a lady, could you not have come to her aid, or left her alone? Why drag her into your foolishness?" "Love," he explained. She looked at him with eyes the blue of the sky. "I hope you choke on it," she said, flatly.
  • He had had a severe shock some weeks earlier, when, having narrowly failed to capture a large grey-brown hare for his dinner, it had stopped at the edge of the forest, looked at him with disdain, and said, "Well, I hope you're proud of yourself, that's all," and had scampered off into the long grass.
  • "Sometimes I wonder if she transforms people into animals, or whether she finds the beast inside us, and frees it."
  • "If ever you get to be my age," said the old woman, "you will know all there is to know about regrets, and you will know that one more, here or there, will make no difference in the long run."

Links

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