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.