Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

 We enjoyed this! I actually read this out loud to my wife while she nursed our baby several times each day. She liked the plot a lot, but not very much how it ended. Of course, we skipped the sexually explicit parts. Call us prudes, but fornication is fornication. So, although we liked the story, we wouldn’t want our son to read it, or at least, not until he is mature enough to discern right from wrong from works of fiction.

The plot, sort of (May contain spoilers!)

The story began in the town of Wall. It was probably named after a wall that separated the town from the fantastical world of Faerie. Faerie is literally a fairy tale-like place, where creatures like goblins, gnomes, witches, nymphs, unicorns, talking animals, flying ships, power-hungry princes, and yes, fairies live.

The wall has a gap and was constantly guarded by the town’s male inhabitants. No one is permitted to enter it, except during the trade fair, which took place every nine years. The inhabitants of the real world and the fantasy world did commerce on that day.

Dunstan Thorn met an enigmatically-beautiful lady on one such Market Day. He fell for her, fornicated with her (sorry, I can’t help it), and not long after, Tristran Thorn was born.

Tristran was delivered at the foot of the wall’s gap one night, and a name tag was attached to his basket. Dunstan at the time was already married to Daisy Hempstock, and he wasn’t aware that the girl he met in the meadow behind the wall was pregnant. Still, he welcomed the boy into his home, and his wife treated young Tristran like a real son.

Tristran was in love with Victoria Forester, “the fairest girl in the whole British Isles.” One night, while courting her, they saw a falling star drop from the sky. In his fervor and foolishness, he promised Victoria to retrieve that star for her, in exchange for his “heart’s desire” — perhaps Victoria’s kiss or hand in marriage.

And so he did. He bade his father and mother good bye, and slipped into Faerie for the fallen star. He met a strange little hairy man who helped him and gave him tools by which to locate and obtain the star.

The star is actually a girl. Her name is Yvaine, and at first she hated his guts. But slowly in the story they became friends.

Somewhere in Faerie, on top of Mount Huon, is the Kingdom of Stormhold. The 81st Lord of Stormhold was dying. He has seven sons, four dead and three still living. The three didn’t trust each other. In fact, they were out to eliminate one another, eventually, somehow, because only one son must remain to rule the Kingdom. The rightful heir must win the Lord’s Topaz stone. Their father threw it into the night sky and one of them must possess it. It happened that the stone hit a star. That star was Yvaine. And so, she fell into Faerie, never to return again.

In another place in Faerie, in the middle of a thick forest, lived three old witch-queens. Somehow, they found out about the fallen star. One of them quickly set out to find it (or her), because the star’s heart has the power to restore them into their youthful and powerful forms.

I’ll leave it at that.

Thoughts

Gaiman is a great story teller. This novel was so easy to read. It’s fast-paced, and the progress of the plot kept us interested enough to want to keep on turning the pages. There were a few funny moments, too. Gaiman has at times a dark sense of humor.

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