Stardust by Neil Gaiman

stardust-neil-gaimanStardust by Neil Gaiman, first published in 1998.

Author. Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Genre: YA fantasy.

Source: gift.

At the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall. Young Tristran Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is as cold and distant as the star she and Tristran see fall from the sky one evening. For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristran vows to retrieve the star for his beloved. It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining… (Goodreads)


My rating: 4.5/5

I have a weird relationship with Neil Gaiman. I read Coraline ages ago and quite liked it, but it didn’t make too much of an impression. Then I read Graveyard Book and really enjoyed it. Then I completely choked on American Gods. The only rule I can pull from this is that I prefer his writings for younger readers, but I’ll have to give his other adult books another go.

Stardust has become a new favourite. I watched the movie in the cinema when it came out and it was cute and I’ve probably re-watched it twice since then. But it wasn’t the absolute best movie I’ve ever seen or anything like it, despite the fact that I really liked both Tristran and Yvaine.

But the book… How do I describe it? It’s a gorgeous fairytale and Gaiman’s writing is true to the genre, yet he’s sometimes completely irreverent. I love that the book is a standalone and that it’s short – it’s very concise and to the point, without any superfluous fluff or distractions. I love fantasy series, I really do, but sometimes it’s great to read a shorter novel.

The two main characters were completely adorable. Tristran has quickly made his way on my list of favourite fantasy heroes. He’s naive and clueless at first, true, but his best quality is that he’s a genuinely good person. That’s so rare nowadays, isn’t it? Yvaine the star, however, is a true gem. She has the most awesome array of insults that she aims at Tristran (Dunderhead. Bumpkin. Dolt. Cretinous, verminous oaf.) and she charms a unicorn.

I loved the secondary characters, as well. The seven princes and the witches were all great, and quite similar to their movie versions. I missed the flamboyance of the sky-ship captain a bit (Robert de Niro in a feathery boa, or whatever it was), but I got the dwarfy guy with his bottomless pack in return.

While this may not be the most eloquent of reviews, don’t let it dampen your curiosity about Stardust. Go read it, it’s wonderful for an evening or two of great entertainment, proper fairytale style, and a smidge of romance. I’m making my husband read the book now so we can re-watch the movie again together. :)


Have you read Stardust? How about other Gaiman’s books? Which one would you recommend to me?

What did you think of the movie adaptation?

  • I confess I am one of those who raves about American Gods over all else but I do really like this one as well. There is a sense of wonder to it that is hard to explain.

    • Kaja

      Right? I think it’s partly the fact that Tristran is SO clueless and everything in Faerie is new to him, and partly it’s just Gaiman’s magic :)
      I know, I know, I have to give American Gods another try, and also read Neverwhere and Good Omens (I have them all at home, my husband has already read them), but I always find something newer and shinier to read.

  • I read this shortly before the movie, and although I liked it, I didn’t love it. I just don’t think it’s my kind of book. I actually liked the movie better. But maybe I should re-read it. Maybe my feelings have changed.

    Either way, I’m really glad you enjoyed this one so much.

    • Kaja

      Well, you’re bound to dislike some books that everyone else loves :) But it’s a short standalone, so a re-read shouldn’t be too time consuming. I’ve had Stardust on my tbr forever so I’m really glad I finally got to it!
      Thanks for stopping by, Quinn! :)

  • I loved Stardust, it’s one of my favourite books because it totally has the right tone to it that it feels like you’re reading a fairytale, which it is, but a modern cooler fairytale that I don’t want to stop reading. I admit, I loved American Gods, but it did take two attempts to finish it, more because of my mood reading than anything else.

    I didn’t know that the film Stardust was even based on a book when I watched it, and it was only a couple of years after that film that I discovered Neil Gaiman and so when I discovered he wrote Stardust I knew I wanted to read it because the film was so awesome, although I haven’t seen it in a couple of years, so my opinion may have changed.

    • Kaja

      I have forgotten most details about the film, so I’ll have to watch it again soon. I didn’t know it was a book, either! :) Sometimes the movies get so much more attention, so it makes sense.
      I’ll probably have another go at American Gods, but right now, man-eating vaginas aren’t on top of my list of priorities ;)

  • Wonderful review, Kaja! I love this book (and movie, and I agree with you about the differences.) Try listening to the audiobook sometime – it’s read by Neil himself, and he has a wonderful voice for it.

    • Kaja

      Thanks :)
      And thanks for the rec! I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks (when I did household stuff, on the bus, on walks), but now that I have a kid, I just talk to him all the time :D I really have to get back into the habit, though, I love audiobooks.

  • YES! I love Stardust! Dunderhead is actually an insult on pretty heavy rotation with me and my friends, hahaha. It’s kind of sad that we find genuinely good people so noteworthy, but it’s true – Tristan is one of the few. He’s just so earnest! That’s part of why I liked him and Yvaine, because he needs someone a bit tougher than him.

    And I’m a sucker for unicorns ;)

    • Kaja

      Yes, well, that particular unicorn meets a sad fate… :( evil witches!
      English is such a great language for swearing! Most Slovrnian insults sound either pompous or too soft, which is why we borrow heavily from Croatian and Serbian. It makes translating simple things like “fuck” a nightmare.

  • Though they’re quite different, both the book and the film are such comfort things for me! I was so happy when it was on UK netflix a while ago, and when the book was given away free on Kindle. It really is an enchanting story.

    • Kaja

      Hi, Nikki, thanks for stopping by!
      Yeah it definitely has a high rereadability factor. I can’t believe it took me this long to read it!
      My husband is reading it now :)