Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I reviewed the movie here: Stardust: Fantasy at its Best if anyone’s more into movies.

Well, the book is different.

I was scarred by Neil Gaiman’s the Ocean at the End of the Lane, despite reading it three times at least, and I was looking for something ‘happier.’

The main go to bookstore kept running out of Stardust, so when I finally found it: last copy, sitting alone cold and untouched, I grabbed, purchased, and read it right away. It took few hours only, considering that it’s a pretty small book (you want thick? Go for American Gods).

The book started with Dunstan Thorn. He was a simple young man who fell for a remarkable lady at a market, across the wall that divided two worlds, and spent a night with her. A year later, sometime after he married a fine young woman named Daisy, Dunstan received a baby boy named Tristran Thorn, who was conceived across the wall.

Tristran grew up different. He looked different, and seemed to lack in many ways and was never extraordinary. Yet if there was one thing Tristran was full of, was his love and devotion for the beautiful Victoria, whose beauty charmed the whole town and more.

So one night when a star fell, after begging her to kiss him and receiving a cold rejection, Tristran swore to bring back a fallen star to Victoria’s door. For whatever he truly desired. Be it her kiss or her hand in marriage.

Knowing that the star fell across the wall, Tristran set out on a journey across the world to claim the rights to Victoria’s heart.

Of course, when Tristran arrived things weren’t as simple as he’d expected since the fallen star was not a rock but a stubborn girl with a broken leg. And Tristran had to bear with her temper and her depression post falling from the sky, all the way to the wall.

At the same time, the last lord of Stormhold, the ruling family on the land, had passed and left for his remaining sons to claim the power of Stormhold. It was a necklace that he’d thrown into the sky before he breathed his last, a necklace that flew up so high it knocked down a star and rested with her as she fell onto the land.

The power of Stormhold had, since then, remained with the star that Tristran had searched for and found in the name of his love for Victoria.

As Tristran and Yvaine, the star, traveled for months across the land, they started to care for each other. And Tristran had started to forget about Victoria, and wanted to simply settle with his true love.

Of course, later on it was revealed that Tristran was the last heir of Stormhold, as his mother was the daughter of the last lord, and that he and Yvaine were to rule the land for many years before he passed.

And Yvaine remained as the ruler of Stormhold for she was immortal, and she’d spend nights staring at the night sky, missing her one true love long after he’d passed.

That last part broke my heart. I preferred the movie version, where they lived for many years with children and grandchildren, and Tristran remained an immortal due to having the star’s heart.

It was still a much happier read than the other books, so I couldn’t complain much.

I love the pace in the story. It’s told in third person, so we never truly know what’s going on in each character’s heart, but we’re given enough information from an observer’s point of view to decide what to make out of it.

We also aren’t given a full blown romance (phew), as the love that takes place in this book is much more than a “love at first sight” or one of the easier takes of love; it is the love that grows in time, one that starts with friendship (or hatred even), and one that blossoms in the end when two people realize that the one true heart desire has been standing next to them all this time.

The story is harmless. It doesn’t go full mode crazy like it does in the movie, and it’s very subtle in a way that you can go through it easily without losing your mind in the mad battle between the witches and the mortals.

The characters are relatable. They’re written in a way that they don’t overshadow anything, and they’re just as subtle and yet as important as the tale itself. It’s like you’re going on a journey with Tristran and you have no choice but to love it.

Was I invested in them? Probably not as much as I wanted to, but I was curious enough to flip pages all the way to the end.

Neil Gaiman painted worlds with his words. And it’s stunning.

This book is a 7/10 from me. Would I read it again? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Yes.

But if I must say, if you want happier story, watch the movie.

 

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