NESFA Members' Reviews


by Neil Gaiman

Spike, 1999, 235 pp, $22.00

A book review by Mark L. Olson

Stardust is an interesting story told in the classic fairytale manner, but with a few modern twists - mostly people show more independence than usual, and more of the politics and structure of Faery is visible than, say, the Brothers Grimm would have included.

The story is simple: There is a village in England which has a Wall with a gate (or is that a Gate?) to Faery. Every nine years a fair is held on the Faery side of the gate and people from all over Earth come for the chance to trade with Faery. But trading with Faery -- dealing with Faery in any way -- is dangerous. One man returns with a changeling child.

Years later another fair is at hand and the changeling is now an 18-year-old young man who goes off into Faery on a foolish quest -- his not-quite-but-he-wishes-she-were-girlfriend asks him to bring her a fallen star. The quest ultimately succeeds in an unexpected way, but the un-girlfriend has long since married another.

Interestingly, the quest succeeds in part because of the youth's heroism, but more than his heroism, it succeeds because he is essentially a polite, decent person -- a novelty which elicits help from many quarters.

Faery is rich and fabulous and dangerous -- not the least the nine brothers, Lords of Stormhold, who must settle the succession by assassinating each other -- with the ghosts of the assassinated brothers hanging around to comment on the technique of the survivors.

This is a fun modern fairy tale.

See my of reviews of books by Neil Gaiman: A Walking Tour of the Shambles, Stardust

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