All throughout the Once Upon a Time Challenge, I kept seeing Neil Gaiman’s name pop up. I’d read the reviews with interest, and would think it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t really motivated to do anything about it. Then, my younger brother hopped on the Gaiman fanwagon, and Carl added the incentive of a giveaway (though the odds are low that I’ll win anything), and so I checked out Stardust from the library.

I’m not sure you can count me among the hoards of Neil Gaiman’s super fans, but I did find this book charming and sweet. I was charmed from the first pages, with stable Dunstan falling for a faerie. I enjoyed so many elements of the story: the innocence and foolhardiness of Tristran, the crankiness of the fallen star toward him and her plight, the weirdness of the brothers (I was actually rooting for Primus, and so was a bit bummed when he got offed), and, yes, even the sinister witch-queen (though I think I was a bit disappointed by the way her story turned out). I enjoyed the sky-ship, the magical elements of the story, the way nursery rhymes came into play, the way Gaiman uses language.

It’s one of those stories that works just the way it is, but is really hard to define. It’s a fairy tale, but it’s not a typical one. It’s an adventure story, but mostly it’s just Tristran and the star wandering and helping and being helped. It’s a story about kindness and opportunity and, yes, love. I do wish I had read an illustrated copy; they sound beautiful.

I do have to admit that I’m made wary by the movie trailer; it looks like it’ll be fun, but I’m also suspecting that they’re going to play fast and loose with the story. Which would be too bad, since it’s nearly perfect as it is.

15 thoughts on “Stardust

  1. Yeah, I didn’t quite know where to start either. My brother said this one’s a good place. That, and Neverwhere. Hubby liked the first half of American Gods, but then felt it tanked, so I’m not sure I’m going to read that one at all…But Stardust’s a good book.


  2. I’ve been trying to read this one. But it’s always checked out at my library. Everything Gaiman has been checked out the past month. While I know it’s unlikely everyone is Once Upon A Timing…it does seem like a conspiracy of sorts. The minute a prize is offered for people to read Gaiman…no Gaiman is available. Anyway, long story short, I enjoyed reading your review!


  3. Great review! Stardust is indeed the perfect book to start off with Gaiman. I loved American Gods. One of my favorite books. Much, much darker and more “adult” than Stardust, but such a great story. Anansi Boys is a little lighter if you’re looking for something else of his that’s a little light-hearted at times.


  4. Hubby said that it was really quite brilliant for about half, but then Gaiman decided to get all “deep” and it didn’t work as well. But then, Hubby’s a political philosopher, so his standards can be a bit high. 🙂


  5. yes, Gaiman isn’t a great philosopher, but I have to admit I love his use of language and the characters in his stories come so alive for me. Personally, I’m still sticking to Neverwhere being my favorite Gaiman tale, although I’m looking forward to Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett; I turned in one book at the used bookstore and walked out with three!).For some reason, I enjoy how Gaiman’s tales are stories about “people wandering around and being helped.” For most authors that gets on my nerves, but Gaiman’s characters are rich and the world he creates is vibrant – so it works for me.


  6. Yeah, his name does seem to be popping up everywhere. I’ve never read anything by him either, but I keep thinking I ought to. Although come to think of it, whenever I read anything because I *ought* to, I invariably end up hating it. But I’m intrigued by your review…


  7. I’ve only read a few Gaiman books (American Gods, Coraline), but have enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I especially recommend Coraline if you haven’t read it. It’s a really fun children’s book.


  8. I got real into Gaiman for awhile, too, but then his ramblings started to give me a headache so I jumped off that bandwagon. Same with Terry Pratchet, maybe I’m just not meant for the British.


  9. I have only read the book he collaborated with Terri Pratchett with, Good Omens. I have gotten Anazi Boys but haven’t read it yet. A friend of my husbands was over the other night and he had a t-shirt that said, “I am a Neil Gaiman Character”


  10. I love your review! I just finished this book a few days ago. Of course, I’m in the corner of being a huge Neil Gaiman fan….at least after this challenge, I’ve become one! But I’m glad to see you like this!


  11. Neil Gaiman is a great writer, and I’m both proud and disappointed his “cult” status is weakening. <>American Gods<> is my favorite, with <>Smoke and Mirrors<> close behind.


  12. I started with Coraline and I liked it but wasn’t amazed or blown away. Stardust is sitting here – hopefully, I’ll get a better idea of Gaiman’s writing (and whether or not it thrills me) from that one.


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