This installment, another in a series supplied by my dear friend Jojo, is a little different; nonetheless, it is indeed good old, Fantasy. :o) Written by the man responsible for the Sandman comics, it has been quite a conversation piece and has garned Mr. Gaiman much attention, of late. But as you will see, it promises good things to all who open its pages, as any fine Faerie tale, ancient or modern should. Read on, and enjoy!
I found Stardust to be a thoroughly enchanting tale. Beginning in the town of Wall, England, and set primarily within the Faerie land that touches the Wall, it follows the adventures of Tristran Thorn. Infatuated with the town's most lovely girl, Victoria, Tristran promises her treasures upon treasures for her hand in marriage or, at least, a kiss. Annoyed with Tristran's attentions, Victoria catches the glimpse of a falling star and orders him to find it for her and bring it back to her. Thus starts the story....
Through his (mis)adventures Tristran meets up with ancient witch queens, meddling minor witches, dark men with dark goals, a somewhat violent unicorn, and a mysterious woman with even more mysterious qualities and quirks.
The characters were very charming, with a sense of being distorted and not completely real, and the story was absolutely captiviting. There was a whimsical air about the whole thing, which I've found to be apparent in the few other Gaiman works that I have read, though I have never seen it work quite as well as it did here. This was due, in part, I believe to the setting. The Faerie realm was never explained beyond a very basic degree and little explanation was given in which to bog the story down. The tale was about Tristran and there it stayed. The result is a very light story and a very fast read, where things are taken at face value ~ things are how things are because that is how things are. We aren't drowned in the mechanical working of the worlds, and I think that this added a charm to the tale.
Those seeking a complexly woven tale of intrigue and magic need not stop here. Stardust can be a bit predicitable at times, but this took nothing away from the story for me. It had the feel, rather, of an old folktale, something told long ago and forgotten about, resurfacing, instead of a fantasy story created just a few years ago. As a result, characters tend to seem a bit larger than life or unrealistic ~ they do not interact as one might expect in a fantasy novel, going quickly to dislike and back to like, and accepting considerably large discoveries unbelievably quick. This is is kept from being a flaw, in my mind, due to the nature of the story.
Fans of folktales would enjoy this book, I feel, as well as Gaiman fans. I highly recommend the illustrated trade copy, with paintings created by Charles Vess ~ there is something to be said for illustrated books. I recommend the story over all ~ I found it to be a surprising delight.