When I was a teenager, one of my favourite films was Stardust (2007). I loved it. It was a great movie full of wackiness and honestly its still a good movie to allow adult Bea to curl up and just fall into a crazy quest to catch a fallen star. I loved it. Still do. This is the film:
So when I was volunteering at the bookshop the other day, I happened to be straightening a section and I spotted Stardust by Neil Gaiman. The book, not the film. I had that book tucked away safely for myself within seconds, and after buying it at the end of my shift, I started reading it on the bus, finished it later that night during Eggheads.
Stardust is about the village of Wall. On the other side of the wall which gives the village it’s name is the magical realm of Faerie where woods can eat you, unicorns and witches exist and are commonplace and I’m pretty sure talking in riddles is a rule. This is the tale of a boy who was born to both worlds, his name is Tristan. Tristan grows up a farmboy in Wall, in love with the beautiful Victoria. When they see a star fall east, Tristan promises to bring the fallen star to Victoria as proof of his love for her. He sets off on an adventure. But the star wasn’t quite what he was expecting, in fact, she’s rather angry at him for taking her prisoner. They set off back for Wall, on the back of a unicorn, with dangers and a fight for the crown of Stormhold on their journey.
The book is even better than the film, which is of course the golden rule. The book is full of whimsy and fairytales being logical solutions to problems and is dark and cruel in places. Tristan is a little annoying, Yvaine is lovely and bitter and they balance each other out by having different strengths and weaknesses. Trees talk. Boys become goats. People are enslaved till two Mondays occur in the same week or something like that, and the general sense of the entire book is that everything and nothing makes sense.
I love those kinds of books.
There are various plots which all converge around Tristan and Yvaine, such as the successor to the throne of Stormhold, the witches searching for the fallen star. They receive help from lots of different people that they have helped in turn, promoting the “one good deed deserves another” rather than simply oh, you’re a handsome couple here I will help you sometimes seen in “quest” novels.
The book and the film are of course very different. The film has a different kind of action, in fight scenes and a big dramatic scene where the oldest witch turns a dead person into a sword fighting puppet. The film ends in violence, the book ends extremely peaceably. Both end with a romance saving the day. And of course, the awesome ten minutes with Captain Shakespeare in the film are sadly missing from the book, but I’m not sure how it would have been written anyway so I’m not sad about that at all. The book of Stardust is simply wonderful, and also, a nice short read. I’m looking forward to being able to read it to my hypothetical children. Failing that, bedtime story for nieces/nephews/cats.
I’m now planning on getting my hands on a few more Gaiman novels – I really want Amercian Gods but also Good Omens by Gaiman and Pratchett because I love crazy and those two plus mythology is bound to be fabulous.