Stardust is the first novel by Neil Gaiman that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. The first thing that I thought at the end was “Oh I wish I could write something like that and have that kind of imagination”. Because his style is what I would like to have in my writing. A mix of old fairytales and modern fantasy told with irony. Beautifully yet simply written.
The basic idea is charming: that in the realm of Faerie, when a star falls, it falls in the form of a woman, who shines in the night and never sleeps. And if a romantic hero in love foolishly promises to bring a fallen star back to his beloved, he can actually find the star and decide to bring her back to his world. But our young hero, who’s name is Tristran Thorn, is not the only one that wants to capture the star. There’s a witch who wants to stay young forever, and there’s a bunch of ruthless brothers who’d do anything to become the next king. The three story-lines melt together perfectly and at the end everything ties up nicely, like in every proper fairytale.
I’ve seen the movie first and really enjoyed it. But that meant that I kept comparing the two. They are very different and for once I appreciated them both, but it’s true that the movie lets the romance between Tristran and the fallen star Yvaine stand out much more. In the book it sorts of happen at the end, almost suddenly, even if you can see it coming. The film made it into a Hollywood love story, with sparkles and passion. I can’t say what I would have thought if I hadn’t seen the film first, but I missed that part in the book. Other than that, I didn’t feel like the movie spoiled the book for me. I was expecting the grand final scene with the witch trying to kill Yvaine, and I was surprised to find out it’s not there. It was different, but still brilliant.
Gaiman’s style alone makes the reading of the book worth it. And I was happy to find some bits that where taken out of the movie, like the “Tori Amos” scene or the encounter with the little hairy man in the forest. It felt so right in the book because it immediately tells you that Tristran is in another world now. He’s in Faerie.
With Stardust Neil Gaiman had definitely won me over and I’m sure I'm going to be a huge fan as soon as I’ve finished reading all his books. I have no doubt about it.
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