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 wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that old stone wall, Tristran learns, lies Faerie—where nothing, not even a fallen star, is what he imagined.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman comes a remarkable quest into the dark and miraculous—in pursuit of love and the utterly impossible.
Publisher: Harper Perrennial
Anyone who knows me fairly well will be aware of my pedantic refusal to watch a film adaptation before I’ve read the book it’s based on. For those of you who don’t know me that well and are only just now finding out about this weird antic – yes, I know, I’m a complete snob. I’m also one of those people who, once I finally get around to watching the movie, will complain incessantly about why it doesn’t do its book justice. Again, I know. I’m terrible. You have every right to storm my home, wielding pitchforks and maybe even some witty signposts. I probably deserve it.
But those of you crinkling your noses at my misconduct now will find solace in the fact that sometimes – sometimes – the universe conspires against me and I end up watching the film long before I get around to reading the novel. And sometimes, it just so happens that I end up falling completely in love with it, probably because I’m unable to critique it based on its deviations from the source material.
Such was the case with Stardust. I don’t remember the first time I watched it, but I remember loving it so much that, for possibly a full year of my childhood, I didn’t go one fortnight without re-watching it. It was my favourite fairytale – is still one of my favourite
fairytales. There’s something about the world of Faerie that makes me want to be bold and adventurous and impulsive, which is quite spectacular considering that one of my lifelong goals is to see just how many days I can spend confined to my bed with a book.
After years of pretending Stardust the book didn’t exist (it’s embarrassing for us Terrible Literature Snobs to admit we’ve broken one of our sacred laws), I stumbled across a copy in a comic book store. It was illustrated by Charles Vess. It was beautiful. I had to have it.
As soon as I opened it, I was lost. Neil Gaiman’s always been one of the authors I turn to when I crave complete immersion in a story, and he did not disappoint. His writing feels like a vivid dream – strange and haunting and stunningly real.
And here’s the part all you sadists that judged me at the beginning of this review have been waiting for: I don’t regret watching the film adaptation first. The two versions, while based on the same basic story, are vastly diverse, and obviously aimed at different audiences. While the movie focuses on Stardust as a love story, the novel embodies the darkness and detail of a true fairytale. Gaiman’s original characters are also far more tragic and human, embodying a realism that would seem out of place in the significantly lighter film version.
Re-encountering Stardust as an adult was an almost ethereal experience – it almost felt as though the story had grown up with me. For the entirety of the time it took me to read it, I found myself battling warring feelings of nostalgia when I encountered familiar characters, and wonder at the nuances and subtleties that would have floated right over my head in childhood.
If you haven’t bothered to read it because you’ve already seen the movie, it’s worth it. If, like me, you’ve seen the movie and don’t want to read the book because you don’t want to admit you made a terrible mistake, it’s worth it. If you have no idea who Neil Gaiman is or why I’ve rambled on and on about this weird star thing for the past few minutes, you should probably make use of your internet connection more often. Also, read this book.