Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

I’ve written about STARDUST twice before, after my fifth and sixth readings, and my opinion hasn’t changed overmuch. I still love the book deeply, and for the same reasons I’ve loved it all along.

Why review it, then?

Well, because I love it, and because the previous reviews appeared on my old blog. It seems like most of my current readership (hello, readers! I love and appreciate you all!) followed me over from Stella Matutina, but I don’t want to count on y’all already knowing how I feel about STARDUST. I want to tell you straight out so you can say, "Hey, I should read that because it is loved!" Or maybe, "Hey, I remember that book! I should revisit it because I loved it, too!"

Okay, then. Let’s get down to this.

When Tristran Thorn's favourite lady offers him his heart’s desire in exchange for the star they watch fall together, he heads off to the far reaches of Faerie to retrieve the thing and win himself a bride. Tristran expects to haul a hunk of rock home with him and is shocked to discover that the star is, in fact, an opinionated woman who isn’t even slightly interested in helping him win his true love’s affections.


Also, totally awesome.

Like, so awesome that this could be my entire review:


And it would be a most apposite review.

Okay, maybe not. But it would accurately convey the excitement I feel whenever I so much as think of STARDUST.

This was my eighth time through the story and my first experience with the audiobook read by Mr Gaiman himself. What an experience it was! Some of my favourite elements, such as the elegant and gorgeous punctuation2, were somewhat less in evidence as I read by ear, but most of the story took on a new and exciting dimension in the different medium. It’s always fascinating to hear how authors perform their own characters; the accents they choose, the tone they adopt, the parts of speech they stress, the thousand little elements of delivery that tell you how they envision this person.

An author’s interpretation is by no means the be-all and end-all of a character, but it can sure be interesting. Gaiman’s interpretations generally match my own, too, so that’s nice.

Story-wise, I couldn’t stop grinning with delight as I reached each of my favourite parts. The little hairy man! The unicorn! Primus3! The giant tree! Ditchwater Sal! Tristran’s sense of direction! The mysterious order! The port town where all the ladies have a million husbands! The Lady Una! The women in the mirror! Ships that sail the clouds! Magical glass flowers! Mr Bromios!

If you want the truth, that last paragraph is comprised entirely of random things that sprang to mind. When you get right down to it, I love everything about STARDUST, no matter how trivial or how flawed.

I reread often, but it’s rare for me to return to a book eight times4. When I reach this point, I lose much of my objectivity. I can tell you things I love about STARDUST and, if pressed, I could probably tell you some things that bother me about it, or that might bother you about it. (Probably. Not right now, though; I need some time to think.) What I can’t do, now or ever, is quit loving it.

STARDUST is no longer just a book; it’s an old friend I could not hope to cut out of my life. I hope and pray Neil Gaiman does return to this setting someday, either for the promised sequel about Tristran (and, presumably, Yvaine) or for the contemporary tale he introduces at the end of the audio production.

Please, Mr Gaiman? Please?


While I always advocate your local library as the absolute best source for books, I recognize this may not be an option for everyone where every book is concerned. If you're in search of another way to read STARDUST, you can try:

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  1. I’ve always wanted to write a review that was nothing but a giant block of exclamation points. In fact--spoiler alert--I’m totally going to do it when I reread one particular book later this year. (Don’t worry; I do have a lengthy, if old, review of the book to which I shall link. Just in case anyone wants, like, valid commentary on the thing.)
  2. Neil Gaiman is, and shall remain, my favourite punctuator.
  3. There’s an off-screen character named Primus in the YA novel I wrote last year. He’s mostly a result of Roman naming conventions (I had a character named Decimus who needed an oldest brother), but he’s also sort of a reference to STARDUST-Primus.
  4. Other books I’ve read 8+ times include C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia (26 times), Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain (eleven times), the early volumes of Gaiman’s SANDMAN (eight and nine times), and the early volumes of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (eight and nine times).


  1. It would be nice to have him return. I have only read the book once, but I don't reread nearly as much as you do!

    1. I reread much less now than I used to. Mostly, I reread comics or books my library has on audio. I hope I'll manage to squeeze in a few more print novels once I do away with la TBR.

  2. To me this is one of the few times where the book is thrashed by the movie adaption that just ... wow!! The book was...okay, not bad. Alright. The movie though?! Neil g writes fine, but his stuff always comes alive really and truly when taken to film. ^_^