Several people have recommended Neil Gaiman to me over the last few years. While his books sounded intriguing, I always had some reservations about reading them, since fantasy fiction was never one of my favorite genres. However, after enjoying Good Omens so much, I decided to follow the wisdom of my friends and check out some of Gaiman’s other work, beginning with Stardust.

Stardust takes place in the 19th century and mostly follows the tale of Tristran Thorn, a young man from the village of Wall. Eager to marry the beautiful Victoria Forester, Tristran promises to bring her the falling star they see while walking together one evening. In exchange, Victoria promises him whatever he desires, not believing he will actually go searching for the fallen star. Tristran leaves Wall and begins his quest into the magical land of Faerie. Over the course of his journey, Tristran learns that stars are not quite what humans think they are, that he has some vicious competition in finding this particular star, and that his connection to Faerie runs much deeper than he ever knew.

According to several sources, Gaiman wrote Stardust in the style of the English fantasy fiction popular before Tolkien. The book definitely has the atmosphere of an old-fashioned fairy tale, but it feels fresh and vibrant rather than archaic. The world Gaiman creates is beautifully detailed and colorful, and it springs to life from the pages. While the novel is much more about plot than character study, there are still some very entertaining and memorable characters, with Tristran Thorn proving a likable hero that the reader can root for easily. Some clever plot twists and interesting, surprising relationships add to the appeal, making Stardust a charming, magical read, even for those who usually prefer their fiction more realistic.

I have seen Stardust listed as a young adult novel and under adult science fiction/fantasy. I think that either way, this is a novel that both teenagers and adults will find very enjoyable. From what I understand, its tone is very different from most of Gaiman’s other work (which I very much look forward to reading), but even if that is so, Stardust demonstrates his great writing and his ability to capture the reader’s imagination. I don’t know if Gaiman plans ever to write anything else about the land of Faerie or the village of Wall, but I would certainly welcome such a book and am sure it would be just as magical as Stardust.

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