Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realm of Faerie

~written by Neil Gaiman
~illustrated by Charles Vess
1999 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winner
2000 ALA Alex Award Winner

There have been several incarnations of Stardust. It was first published as a four volume comic mini-series which was then collected into a single volume. It was later published without illustrations as is conventional for most novels. And, of course, now there is the movie.

Between the world of Faerie and the mundane England stands a wall. Its only gate is guarded by the men of the nearby village which takes its name from that wall. None are allowed to pass, except for once every nine years when an enchanted market comes to the meadow just beyond. Usually, this is the only time mortals and the magical folk mingle together. But, when Tristran Thorn and Wall's most beautiful young woman together witness a falling star, he makes a brash oath to find and bring back the star in order to earn her love. Thus begins his life-changing adventures in the land of Faerie.

The story is simple enough and really is a fairy tale for grown-ups; whimsical and charming, but not too terribly suprising plot-wise. The writing is not very descriptive and focuses more on the story than any sort of details. Gaiman, as usual, doesn't avoid the nastiness that can be found at the heart of most traditional fairy tales; everything is not butterflies and flowers. I think that the illustrations, although not consistant in style, really do add quite a bit to the story. Those who read the text-only version are missing out.