Cover of Stardust.


author: Neil Gaiman (1997)
date read: 2013-04-01
pages: 288
lists: fantasy
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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.

Further Reading

For a similarly tongue-in-cheek meta-British hero’s journey, read The Hobbit. For more of the sensitive-yet-brutal approach to Fantasy, The Last Unicorn would work well. If you just liked the village on the border of Faerie, give Lud-in-the-mist a go.

If you want to read more of Neil Gaiman, I’d recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane for more atmospheric worldbuilding and American Gods for more epic bleak brutality.

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