by Neil Gaiman
While it is embarrassing for me, a fantasy author, to admit, it’s been quite a long time since I have read anything from the genre. As such, the only comparator I have for Stardust in recent memory is Coelho’s The Alchemist. While I will hold that neither story is an exercise in subtlety, I do feel that Stardust found itself in more competent hands. What results is something vividly fantastic and truly whimsical.
High praise, indeed, to start things off, but let it be known that Gaiman has a talent for description, transporting the reader to a colourful land. The author is quick to introduce the relevant back story and he easily grabbed my attention throughout the tale. And nothing written proves to be irrelevant; as a result, some plot that seemed to have the intention of surprising the reader fails at doing so to a cautious reader, but the author was careful to place certain tidbits far enough apart to allow me sufficient time to forget about them before the subsequent surprise.
Now, maybe it was just the sadist in me, but I found it discouraging that Gaiman did not take one of the many tragic turns he hinted at numerous times at the end. When it all was said and done, the fate of the main antagonist notwithstanding, I thought that everything was tied up too nicely for my liking––you could say, almost like a fairy tale.
Despite my criticism, Stardust was probably the best thing I had the pleasure of reading in some time. As such, it pains me not to give a recommendation to anyone in the mood for a light fairy story.