“Have been unavoidably detained by the world. Expect us when you see us.”
-Neil Gaiman, “Stardust”
Rating: 4 stars
Days to read: 4
Gaiman is one of my best friend’s favorite authors, and I have been quite a delinquent friend in not reading him sooner. When she hooked into my family’s monthly book club recently this was her first pick and it did not disappoint! Bonus points that it’s the first book everyone finished in its entirety in about two years. I’m being a bit generous with the category here because I technically did not read it in a day.. but I did read 80% of the book in 24 hours (including plowing through the last 100 pages in the hour and a half immediately before book club), so we’re going to rock letter of the law here with “could” finish in a day.
Stardust is the story of a young man named Tristan Thorn who lives in the town of Wall in Victorian England. On the edge of the town is, you guessed it.. a wall. Through a small hole in the wall is the passage to the land of Faerie. Every 9 years the villagers of Wall (and travelers near and far) are allowed to gather for a festival in the meadow just beyond the wall and purchase food and goods from the merchants of Faerie. In an effort to impress the most beautiful girl in town, Tristan offers to go to Faerie one night after the festival to bring her back a fallen star.
(In my best Stefon impression) Witches, pirate ships, ghosts.. this book has everything. It’s like the style of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy meets a fantasy world like Alice in Wonderland. The world Gaiman creates is imaginative and cheeky. I especially liked the little details, like that the conversations of the ghosts of dead brothers (who have all killed each other vying for the crown) sound like leaves rustling to the living. There’s a love story that runs throughout the book, and dare I say, it might be one of my favorite literary romances. No love at first sight, no I’m attracted to you and don’t know a damn thing about you.. rather, it’s a slow building trust and an epic adventure. As true love should be.
I tend to be attracted to books where the plot serves as a greater commentary. The first 50 pages felt slow and I found myself frustrated with the story (it’s just a weird interesting place with weird interesting people?) but I slowly came around to wanting to read every Gaiman book that exists. There is a kind of simple charm and sarcasm that I had somehow stopped pursuing in my reading habits that I was happy to re-discover with Stardust. Next on my list is Graveyard Book and probably my own Gaiman obsession will follow soon thereafter.