I first discovered Stardust back when it was released in cinema, in 2007. Instantly, I fell in love with the movie and listened to ‘Rule the World’ on repeat. To this day, it is still one of my favourite movies.
It wasn’t very long ago that I found out it was based on a book. I had to read it.
To my surprise, the book and film were quite different from each other. Yet I still loved them both!
Neil Gaiman’s novel is about love blinded Tristran Thorn, who lives in Wall. Tirstran isn’t like anyone else, though; his father is a human while his mother is a magical creature. When Tristran turns 17, he develops a big crush on the beautiful Victoria Forester. One night, they both see a falling star and Tristran makes a bid with her; if he retrieves the star for her, she’ll give him anything his heart desires. And so Tristran goes off into the land of Faerie.
Meanwhile, there are others whom are also in search of the star; three ancient witches who wish to cut out her heart to regain their youth. Did I mention the star is a lady, named Yvaine? The remaining sons of Stormhold also seek out the star because she has their dead father’s topaz necklace.
So, as you can probably tell, there’s inevitably a lot of action and magic throughout the novel. But that’s the best part. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting more. The action and magic are unpredictable, and, at some points, original.
The language Neil Gaiman uses throughout the novel truly gives it a ‘fantasy’ vibe, and you can actually imagine the magic he invents. The colours, dialogue, and clothing described gives it a sense of ‘otherness’. This is perfectly fitting for the setting of the novel. It actually made me not want to finish it quickly, because it was so fun to read, and was so exciting.
The characters and settings also add to that ‘different’ vibe. In Wall, they are probably what we’d consider (close to) ‘normal’. They live in a strong village, have traditions, and everyone knows everyone. They’re almost like us. However, in Faerie, they’re magical and unalike. There are witches, Lords, stars, hairy-old men, trees that can move… And much more. They’re fascinating and make the novel intoxicating.
However, I did have one problem with the novel. I didn’t think the representation of the witches, particularly the queen witch, at the end, was very realistic. Throughout the novel, the witch queen, Lilim, seems quite desperate to capture the star. She uses all of her youth and a lot of magic and effort to find and kill her. But when she finds Yvaine at the end, she doesn’t try to kill her, or even, at least, try to kidnap her. Instead, she has a conversation with her. And Yvaine – who almost died because of Lilim – talks to her and gives her a kiss. Yes, it was sweet and quite original to not seek revenge or anything. But throughout the movie, you’re set up to expect something more than that.
All in all, this was a very good read and I enjoyed it so much. I haven’t read many fantasy novels; I usually stick to young adult, romance and horror. But this has definitely persuaded me to read more of this genre – and from Neil Gaiman.