This is one of the books that my mother bought for me in Ontario, and I must say, it was about time I got around to reading a Neil Gaiman novel. Well, one where he writes alone, I have read Good Omens which he wrote with Terry Pratchett.
From the back of the book:
Young Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria - even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient walls that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, likes Fairie - where nothing, not even a falled star, is what he imagined.
I have to say it again: I really like fairy tale-type novels. I shouldn't, because a lot of them are sexist, but I read them as a fairy tale and not a reaction to society as a whole. They started out as oral tales and only by traveling from site to site did they ever manage to be written down. They were written down by men, typically the story tellers were men, and fairy tales are old, so instead of dreaming that they are more respectable of women, I read them with an open-mind. Besides, the fairy tales that are being written nowadays are moving away from the conventions of the classical fairy tale and more into a modern telling that better represents the times.
I look at Stardust as an adult fairy tale. Many adults think that fairy tales are children't stories, but they were originally written for adults, children just adopted them as their own. If you ignore the Disney retellings and concentrate on the original stories, you will find that there are a lot of dark fairy tales that would not be someone's first choice for children. So, if I am not going to market fairy tales for children, then I shouldn't market this novel for adults. Fairy tales should be open to all ages, because really, this book isn't any darker than some of the versions of say Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty that parents read to their children.
Anyways, this book was a very enjoyable read. It starts off as a tale about a boy that sets out to find the prize that will claim his one true love, but it ends up being a novel about a man finding his destiny and place in the world. All the fairy tale creatures are present. We have the evil witch, the helpful little person, the magic, and even the "wish upon a star" moments. Not a conventional star, though, by any means. The star represents different things to different people. It shows the magic of the world outside Wall, but at the same time it shows you that seeing is not always believing. And you shouldn't set yourself on one goal, because things can very easily change along the way.
There are so many wonderful elements to this book. It is a very short read, but the story is wonderful. I say again how glad I am that I finally took the time to read Neil Gaiman, I was not disappointed. Maybe next time I might read the two books I have by him for the R.I.P. challenge... You know what, I think I am going to consider substituting this with another book on my challenge list. It is a dark tale, I didn't know if it would be. If I read this and two other Gaiman novels, that only leaves two other books to read.
I have to say this book was a real treat and I honestly wasn't expecting it to be this good. I won't go into the story again as Kailana has already explained what this is about.
I will say that Gaiman is very good at weaving a tale that truly feels like the faerie tales of the olden days. This is like reading the original Grimm faerie tales right down to the violence and gore present in those famous tales.
Anyone that has ever read the Grimm brothers knows that Disney and today's versions don't come anywhere near the originals which where full of violence. You had people being boiled alive, body parts getting cut off and all sorts of other gore. This book pays homage to those tales and Gaiman doesn't shy away from showing you the harsher side of Fantasyland.
Nonetheless this doesn't take the reader out of the book or make you want to stop reading. The tale is extremely well told and all the pieces fit together nicely.
I do have to warn the reader that this is an adult faerie tale as there are sexual situations as well as violence. This is clearly not a bedtime story for the kids.
It is, however, one very entertaining and engaging reading for anyone who has ever loved a very good faerie tale.
I give it a 4.5 out of 5 as well.