Mr. Lacer actually brought this one (he’s developing a dangerous book buying habit ), he was reading Gaiman’s Fragile Things at the time (also another one of his purchases) and Stardust was the last of the Gaiman books with the nice Headline covers that we didn’t have. He handed me Stardust, “You’ll read this before I finish Fragile Things”; I’m a far quicker reader than him and Stardust is only a short book (at around 190 pages), however, I am shocked to say, this has taken me ages to read and poor Mr. Lacer finished Fragile Things ages ago and he’s been consequently waiting for me to finish.
Now, normally I adore books by Neil Gaiman and will devour them, 190 pages, pah, that’d take me 2 days max, because when I find a book I like, I make time to read it, Stardust on the otherhand, well, it was beautifully and evocatively written, literally dripping with gorgeousness, just a mere sentence transporting you to the land of Faerie, but plot? A little lacking compared to Gaiman’s other books I love, like Neverwhere, Coraline, American Gods, Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, heck all of them! In Gaiman’s defence, I don’t think he was aiming for much plot here, don’t get me wrong, there was plot, but it was quite ‘traditional’, which is what I think he must have been going for. Stardust is a very traditional fairy story, telling the tale of Tristran, from the village of Wall, he crosses over to Faerie to find a fallen star. There’s witches, feuding Lords and other strange miscellanous creatures. Gaiman brings everything to life with his normal skill at writing, in fact I think he surpasses himself here, evoking everything from the mundane of the weather, with brilliant lines like
The rain began at dawn, abruptly, as if the sky had turned to water,
Dusk seemed to have started at dawn that day,
to lines describing the people Tristran meets (you’ll forgive me for only specifically remembering the lines about the weather, I have a soft spot for well described weather – I’m so English). I also really liked the idea of the village of Wall, a village in our day to day reality, yet close enough to Faerie, that strange things happen if the wind blows the wrong way, I liked the whole borderline-ness of it all.
So, for reading the majority of the book, I’d read a few pages, think “Well this is all very nice, stunningly written,” and then go and put the book down and do something else. The story does pick up however towards the end. So to anyone who’s just read Stardust and have based their opinions of Gaiman’s work on just that, I’d say read another one, like maybe Neverwhere or The Graveyard Book, for a taste of his more ‘English’ works and American Gods for a taste of his more ‘American work’, to get a better idea about what Gaiman normally writes.
Finally, as usual with (at least the Headline editions), there is some nice extra material with this book; an author interview and a prologue for a book Gaiman hasn’t written called Wall. Stardust, it turns out, is sort of a prequel for a book that never was. Whereas Stardust is set in the Victorian era, Wall is a modern day story, set in the same village as Tristran came from, featuring a 40 something romantic novelist who’s books are read by characters in American Gods. As someone who is interested in writing, I love those extra little details about the author, Gaiman obviously has these massive complex worlds going on in his head and we’ve only seen glimpses of them so far in his books. And as much as Stardust is not my most favourite book of his, by far, I do hope he write’s his Wall.