Cover of Stardust.

Stardust is a joyful and lovely fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, that has been turned into an equally joyful and loving movie. I knew the movie first (though many of the details were way over my head back then), and it is superficially similar and fundamentally different from the book – both are good, though.

The best thing about Stardust is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the model of the Hero’s Journey, in the model of a folkloric brutal fairytale world, with brilliant atmosphere. The young hero is terrible at first, though, but in learning to navigate the magical world and the not-so-magical British village, he gets his bit of backstory, growing up, redemption, love interest, blah blah. It’s Neil Gaiman’s talent as a storyteller that make this book stand out.