Stardust – Neil Gaiman

August 8, 2019 § Leave a comment

First published in English in 1999

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Dunstan Thorn lives in Wall, a little village where there is a very well-known, physical wall, from which perhaps the village got its name. There is a small opening in the wall, and peering through it, it looks like there’s a beautiful meadow beyond. But no one goes through it, except on one very special day every nine years—the day of the fair. People from the world over would crowd this small village of Wall, all so that they could go through that opening, into the meadow, to see the market by the magic folk.

He meets a beautiful young woman, a faerie, selling some of the most exquisite crystal flowers he has ever seen. He is bewitched, perhaps, and returns to the meadow late that same night to claim his Heart’s Desire. But he is a mere mortal, a man, and cannot stay on this side of the wall. He returns to his village to live his normal life the best he can. Then, nine months later, a newborn in a basket is pushed through the opening from the meadow into the village of Wall. A piece of paper comes with this package, and on it is written: “Tristan Thorn”.

Tristan grows up in the village of Wall, just like an ordinary boy, though sometimes he feels that perhaps he is just a smidge different from the rest. But a boy he is, and like his friends, he is smitten. Losing his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, he promises to retrieve a fallen star for her. This, then marks the start of his journey to the world beyond the wall, where he must find this fallen star, and bring it back with him to Wall.

It’s a beautiful book. And it’s odd, because I can’t seem to be able to pinpoint exactly what about it makes it so pretty, but the book itself feels like it’s been sprinkled with stardust, and the magic almost feels normal. It’s an adventure story, one that brings Tristan to places he has never gone before; but also one in which he grows up without anyone ever really noticing it.

The book itself is like magic, I feel. There are so many things I want to say about it, but there are also so many things that I feel are unsayable. Almost as if I’m afraid of losing some of that magic, of making it less magic, simply by mentioning it. It’s playful and serious at the same time; funny and sombre at the same time. Everything is a fantasy, and yet everything is real, all at the same time.

 

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