Reviews for Stardust


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 November 1998
/*Starred Review*/ Wall is a whole night's drive from London. The town is named for a rock barrier on its eastern side, with a narrow break in it through which a meadow, a stream, and a forest are apparent, and over which two townsmen always stand guard to prevent entry, except for a few days every nine years. That is when there is a fair in the meadow, put on by people who aren't strictly human, one of whom, in the middle of the nineteenth century, seduces 18-year-old Dunstan Thorn. Nine months later, a baby is delivered to newly married Dunstan, its name written on a card pinned to its blanket: Trystran Thorn. Stardust is primarily Trystran's story. When he is 17, he pledges to fetch for his beloved, the star that has just fallen on the other side of the wall. Of course, first he has to be allowed on the other side, but that proves easy when Dunstan whispers something to the guards. Then Trystran's adventures really begin, for on the other side is Faerie. Once there, Trystran discovers he knows the locations of places he cannot remember ever having heard of before. He knows exactly where the star has fallen, too, and readily finds it--or, actually, her. Nothing thereafter is as easy for Trystran, much to any reader's delight. Gaiman gently borrows from many fine fantasists--for starters, from Andersen, Tolkien, Macdonald, and, for the framing device, Christina Rossetti in her "Goblin Market" --but produces something sparkling, fresh, and charming, if not exactly new under the sun. Superb. ((Reviewed November 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1998 November #1
The multitalented author of The Sandman graphic novels and last year's Neverwhere charms again, with a deftly written fantasy adventure tale set in early Victorian England and enriched by familiar folk materials. In a rural town called Wall (so named for the stone bulwark that separates it from a mysterious meadow through which strange shapes are often seen moving), on ``Market Day,'' when the citizens of ``Faerie'' (land) mingle with humans, young Dunstan Thorn makes love to a bewitching maiden and is presented nine months afterward with an infant son (delivered from beyond the Wall). The latter, Tristran, grows up to fall in love himself and rashly promise his beloved that he'll bring her the star they both observe falling from the sky. Tristran's ensuing quest takes him deep into Faerie, and, unbeknownst to him, competition with the star's other pursuers: three weird sisters (the Lilim), gifted with magical powers though still susceptible to ``the snares of age and time''; and the surviving sons of the late Lord of Stormhold, accompanied everywhere by their several dead brothers (whom they happen to have murdered). Tristran finds his star (in human form, no less); survives outrageous tests and mishaps, including passage on a ``sky-ship'' and transformation into a dormouse; and, safely returned to Wall, acquires through a gracious act of renunciation his (long promised) ``heart's desire.'' Gaiman blends these beguiling particulars skillfully in a comic romance, reminiscent of James Thurber's fables, in which even throwaway minutiae radiate good-natured inventiveness (e.g., its hero's narrow escape from a ``goblin press-gang'' seeking human mercenaries to fight ``the goblins' endless wars beneath the earth''). There are dozens of fantasy writers around reshaping traditional stories, but none with anything like Gaiman's distinctive wit, warmth, and narrative energy. Wonderful stuff, for kids of all ages. (Author tour) Copyright 1998 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1999 January #1
Gaiman, author of Neverwhere (LJ 6/15/97) and the graphic novel series The Sandman, has created an original and well-written fairy tale. Young Tristran Thorn has grown up in the isolated village of Wall, on the edge of the realm of Faerie. When Tristran and the lovely Victoria see a falling star during thespecial market fair, Victoria impulsively offers him his heart's desire if he will retrieve the star for her. Tristran crosses the border into Faerie and encounters witches, unicorns, and other strange creatures. What he does not know is that he is notthe only one searching for the fallen star. This is a refreshingly creative story with appealing characters that manages to put a new twist on traditional fairy-tale themes. Appropriate for almost any age and a good bet for themedium-to-large public library. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/98.] Laurel Bliss, New Haven, CT Copyright 1999 Library Journal Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1998 November #4
Wallace Stevens believed that in order to see the actual world, it helps to visualize a fantastic one. For more than a decade, Gaiman has been helping readers grapple with reality by offering fantastic worlds in visionary graphic novels like The Sandman, occasional short stories and his bestselling first prose novel, Neverwhere. Here, Gaiman extends his range by offering a novel-length fairy tale, one that abounds in wonder and lessons. The story begins in the Victorian-era English village of Wall, a place that touches the world of Faerie. There, every nine years, a fair is held where the magic folk commingle, occasionally in intimate ways, with those who live in the mundane world. From such a union is born Tristan Thorn. Raised without knowledge of his fairy blood, Tristan falls in love with a local beauty, Victoria Forester. When a star falls from the sky, a disdainful Victoria promises Tristan his heart's desire if he will bring her that star. Tristan sets out on his quest, entering the realm of Faerie, and soon encounters a variety of fantastical denizens, both good and evil. Tristan is not the sole seeker of the star; a powerful witch-queen and the dark Lords of Stronghold also have their designs upon the fallen celestial body. This novel is at once a magical adventure, a charming love story and a fable about attaining one's heart's desire?which, in Gaiman's world, is seldom what one thinks it to be. Grounding his narrative in mythic tradition, Gaiman employs exquisitely rich language, natural wisdom, good humor and a dash of darkness to conjure up a fairy tale in the grand tradition. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Jan.)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 July #1
Tristan, a Faerie/Human half-breed, sets out to bring back a fallen star for the girl he loves in this "magical adventure, charming love story and fable about attaining one's heart's desire," that "employs exquisitely rich language, natural wisdom, good humor and a dash of darkness to conjure up a fairy tale in the grand tradition," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 February
YA An old-fashioned fairy tale full of mythic images, magic, and lyrical passages. The town of Wall has one opening, which is guarded day and night. On one side of the stone bulwark is England; on the other, Faerie. Once every nine years, the guard is relaxed so that the villagers can attend a fair held in a nearby meadow. There, as a young man, Dunstan Thorn is seduced by a strange woman, and not quite a year later a child is left at the wall. His name is Tristran Thorn. When he grows up, he falls in love with Victoria Forester, and to win her affection, he vows to bring to her the fallen star that they see one night. The star has fallen in Faerie, and though Tristran soon finds her (for in Faerie a star is not a ball of flaming gas, but a living, breathing woman), he has a hard time holding on to her. The sons of the Lord of Stormhold also seek the star, for it is said that he who finds her can take his father's throne. In addition, the oldest of three evil witches seeks the star, for her heart can grant youth and beauty. While the bones of the story the hero, the quest, the maiden are traditional, Gaiman offers a tale that is fresh and original. Though the plot begins with disparate threads, by the end they are all tied together and the picture is complete. The resolution is satisfying and complex, proving that there is more to fairy tales than "happily ever after." Susan Salpini, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 1999 School Library Journal Reviews

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VOYA Reviews 1999 October
Weaving together fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and folk tales, and spicing them with an erotic moment or two, Gaiman leads the mature reader from several beginnings to a spectacular ending that ties them all together. Some brief passion creates acurious (in every sense of the word) child. A dying monarch watches his sons murder one another, remembering how he survived his brothers. A vain young woman wishes for a star and three witches search for their youth. There is unicorn transportationfor an injured young girl and a boy to whom she is bound by a strong cord. And a similar cord binds a bewitched bird to an old market woman. When Tristan Thorn sets off through the gap in the wall between his town and Faerie, he has no idea how he will find the fallen star that Victoria has demanded as the price of her love, nor why he is allowed to go through the guarded wall. He isunaware of how many other powerful beings are searching for the star. Tristan is, however, thoughtful and kind, and readers of fairy tales know that those qualities attract the magic needed to overcome evil. He is helpful where he can be and cautiouswhere necessary, using his powers wisely. When, after the twentieth or thirtieth hair's breadth escape from disaster, the reader learns who certain mysterious characters really are, the feeling is one of complete satisfaction. Every character meetsthe fate he or she deserves in this tale of Faerie. For the mature reader of fairy tales, Gaiman combines fantasy, adventure, mystery, and romance to produce a novel that will please every reader who chooses it-Lynn B. Hawkins. Copyright 1999 Voya Reviews

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