I know you are supposed to read the book first and then watch the film, but unfortunately for me I saw the film without knowing it was a book, then discovered it in a bookshop and thought “let’s give that a go”.
I must admit after the rather heavy nature of The God of Small Things it was such a relief to get to a book so light and mysterious in nature. I had loved the atmosphere of the film and I can’t believe that they were able to capture the sense of the book so well.
Tristran Thorn promises the girl he loves that he will get her the star they have just watched fall to earth and so he sets off into the mystical world of Faerie where everything is simultaneously similar and strange. It is the kind of fantasy world I love where it feels so much more real because there are points of reference and familiarity. The story follows many of the conventions of a European fairy tale including evil witches and ‘noble’ princes.
Most of all it has the humour of Neil Gaiman which works so well in Stardust because of the dark nature of the story. He is able to use the fairy tale conventions to utilize his slightly warped comedy and everything works in such harmony it is as if Gaiman was meant to write fairy tales.
There is also a ‘coming-of-age’ element to the story as Tristran gets a lot more than he bargained for on his journey to find the star and subsequently with the star. There is adventure and romance and Tristran has to learn to negotiate the stormy sea of adulthood and everything it brings. I suppose that this story falls under the category of ‘Epic Quest’ but it has only just struck me as such because it was so fun and quests must be tough and serious and noble.
One of my favourite parts of the story is the sub-plot of the Stormhold princes who battle it out to become heir of their father’s kingdom. I just love the Monthy Python-esque attitude towards death; I am chuckling just thinking about it. Plus the plot comes round in such an unexpected way it makes the novel for me.
It’s a lovely read full of good old-fashioned English folk-lore and it has an ending to warm the heart if a little predictable.
Would recommend to: adults who want to read a fairy tale.