In the shadow of a huge stone barrier that separates their world from the land of Faerie, the inhabitants of the little town of Wall go about their business just as we all do in the world that we inhabit. One such incident of ‘business’ is that of the young lad Tristan falling in love with arrogant Victoria who is in his opinion the most beautiful girl in Wall – quite possibly the entire world. To win her heart he promises to do anything she wishes so she sets him the task of retrieving a star that falls from the heavens as they are speaking.
Although he knows it has fallen into the land of Faerie that lies on the other side of the barrier which incidentally only has one access point guarded night and day by the townsmen of Wall, he goes anyway, determined to win her affections at any cost.
These few paragraphs set the scene for us;
The events that follow transpired many years ago. Queen Victoria was on the throne of England, but she was not yet the black-clad Widow of Windsor: she had apples in her cheeks and a spring in her step, and Lord Melbourne often had cause to upbraid, gently, the young queen for her flightiness. She was, as yet, unmarried, though she was very much in love.
Mr Charles Dickens was serialising his novelOliver Twist; Mr Draper had just taken the first photograph of the moon, freezing her face on cold paper; Mr Morse had recently announced a way of transmitting messages down metal wires.
Had you mentioned magic or Faerie to any of them they would have smiled at you disdainfully, except, perhaps for Mr Dickens, at the time a young man and beardless. He would have looked at you wistfully. ~ taken from ‘Stardust’ by Neil Gaiman.
Stardust is a fairytale for adults. The romance and highly imaginative element of it combine to make it a book you won’t want to leave easily. Gaiman weaves a breathtaking spell upon his readers with his way of wording and beautiful prose. There is an archaicness to his narrative that takes you somewhere far, far away just through its tone alone. It made me comfortable and turned me into an inquisitive child again wanting to know more and willing to abandon all logic in the process. That being said this is a well balanced book. Although full of quests, unicorns, witches and such like it has enough grounding in contemporary sensibility to save it from straying into the realms of the ridiculous. In essence you can pretend to be a kid again with all the wonderment that brings whilst retaining some sense of adulthood.
A stunning modern fairytale and a firm favourite for me.