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4 Jun 2012

Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.

Neil Gaiman reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett in his writing.  A little bit quirky and eccentric which I loved but overall I was disappointed with the book.  I have seen the film a thousand times before reading the book so that may have spoilt it for me.  But I have to say, I prefer the film. 

The book makes Faerie (known as Stormhold in the film) more fantastical in the book but doesn't go into much detail and the world-building lacks.  I've read books whether there could have been world-building but for Stardust I think there could have been a little bit more.  Ocassionally the plot just briefly mentioned the weird and fantastical things and adventures that Tristran was supposed to have on his way back to Wall but it felt like it was only been mentioned in passing.  Oh, Tristran came across this.  Oh they ran into that.  Back to the plot now! I would have liked to have either seen more world building through these different adventures or taking it out of the book completely.  These adventures you read about don't go into any further detail or add to the book so I don't see how necessary they were to put in.

The ending is also very anti-climatic and abrupt.  I wasn't very satisfied with the fate of the villain and her quest to capture Yvaine for her heart.  It did seem a little bit of a cop out and unrealistic when the witch-queen had been chasing them around Faerie for the whole novel. 

Yvaine was fantastic as always.  I love her temper and angry outbursts when she insults Tristran.  She has a sharp tongue at first but softens as she gets to know Tristran more.  She's not entirely fiery and shows some invulnerability, clearly scared by the situation she is in.  The relationship that develops between them is a strong point.  Starting out as tense but as they spend more time together they really start to like another.

Overall, Neil Gaiman is a must-read author but I don't think Stardust is one of his better novels.  I loved The Graveyard Book and will read more of his books.  But it may be best to read the novel Stardust first before watching the film.  I may have set high expectations on it which could have added to my disappointment.


  1. I have watched the film and loved it - too bad the book was disappointing! Coincidently, I just recently posted Gaiman's Keynote Address to this year’s graduating class of the University of the Arts. It is a wonderful speech, I definitely recommend you check it out!

  2. How awesome would it have been to graduate with a speech from Neil Gaiman? I've meaning to watch that for a while now. Must do so ASAP!

  3. I've only read one Gaiman book so far (NEVERWHERE) and I'm trying to decide which to read next, so I appreciate this review, Robin. BTW, you really must see the Keynote Address that Katharina mentioned. It truly is inspirational.