BOOK REVIEW: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I got Stardust as a free download when I bought something else. I can’t remember what though. Having read a few Neil Gaiman novels and enjoying the film interpretation it seemed like something I would like so I picked it as my holiday read while Mr O and I were in Tallinn and Helsinki.

Compared to some of Gaiman’s other novels Stardust  is quite a quick, simple read. It also has a somewhat different, gentler tone from most his other works, lacking their grit and darkness.

At the centre of this fairy tale is Tristran Thorn, a young man who has grown up in the town of Wall unaware of the fact that he is actually the product of his father, Dunstan’s, night of passion with a faerie during the otherworldly market  that comes to Wall once every nine years.

When seventeen year old Tristran makes a rash promise to the beautiful Victoria Wood, that he will bring her a star they have seen fall, Dunstan gives him a glass snowdrop he was gifted by Tristran’s mother and sends him over the wall. Here Tristran meets a small hairy man who helps through some treacherous woods where he discovers that he has a special talent of being able to find his way anywhere.

When Tristran discovers that the star is actually a woman called Yvaine who has been injured and wants no part of his promise to Victoria, he realises that his journey is not going to be as simple as he expected.

At the same time the King of Stormholt is dying and can’t decide which of his last two living sons to make his heir so he sets them a challenge that will put them right in the path of Tristran and Yvaine.

And if that wasn’t enough there is a witch on Yvaine’s trail who will do anything it takes to get her hands on her heart to restore her youth.

Stardust is a fun enough fantasy romp but in some ways it lacks substance and in my opinion the film does a better job of bringing the characters to life and of adding some meat to the bones of the story. I think I might have been somewhat short-changed by the fact that my Kindle copy didn’t have the illustrations that it appears come with the paper copy, which I think would have added to the story considerably.

I thought Tristran was a fun protagonist to spend time with and I enjoyed watching him grow from a selfish and flighty boy to a strong, responsible young man. Yvaine was also great with her feisty temper. On the other hand the film version of Lamia, the witch was so much cooler. Overall I would suggest that taking on either the film or the book is worth it but the story is not strong enough for there to be much benefit from going for both.

3/5

13 Comments

  1. I recently got Stardust in ebook format and have been wanting to read it because I quite enjoyed the movie when it came out years ago but haven’t gotten around to it because I find it difficult to get into Neil Gaiman’s work… But I think I’ll be giving it a go in October. Maybe…

    1. abbiosbiston

      Compared to some of his other novels it’s a much easier read.

  2. davecrewe

    Soooo if I wasn’t big on the film, probably not worth picking this up from the sounds of things?

    1. abbiosbiston

      They’re pretty similar so I would say probably not,

    1. abbiosbiston

      Probably wise

  3. I loved this book, but then again I loved every Gaiman’s book I’ve read 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      If you’re a fan I can definitely see why you’d enjoy this.

  4. I usually love Neil Gaiman, but I felt the same way about Stardust. It’s one of those rare cases where the movie outshines the book. 😕

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think the movie has a visual appeal that I was missing because my ebook didn’t have the images.

  5. Hmm. Interesting that the movie sounds better. I really need to read something by Gaiman! A few people have recommended him to me… Great review! 🙂

    1. abbiosbiston

      I think it’s a story that needs visuals which is why the movie works but my ebook didn’t have any. I would suggest Neverwhere as a good Gaiman starter.

  6. I like Neil Gaiman’s books but wasn’t mad about this. I thought the film was actually miles better. A great fantasy in the mould of The Princess Bride.

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