This is the fourth Neil Gaiman novel I’ve read in as many months, and it’s noticeably different in style from American Gods and Neverwhere. I recall watching the first few scenes of the movie on TV and switching over. The novel is – as is so often the case – so much better than the movie. If you’ve seen it, then I suggest you read the novel.
The story is bigger and better than the movie because Gaiman begins with a broad brush of life in the (fictional) Victorian village of Wall a couple of decades before the main body of the story begins. There just isn’t the time in a movie version of a novel to explore the characters’ backgrounds, aspirations and relationships in the kind of depth that Gaiman does. For a fairytale – which is what this is – to be told well, it’s this this depth and long line of chronological consequences that needs to be told.
The characters are drawn rather well, and the story hangs together. What really makes this a masterful tale is the fact that Gaiman is able to tie the characters into a story containing a complex enough causal relationship that it gives the reader a deeply satisfying ending as all of the detail knits back together seamlessly – something which a lot of modern literary fiction lacks (Boyd W., I’m speaking to you). In addition, there are some beautifully-imagined concepts – I’ll call them objects and occupations – which I won’t describe here for fear of spoiling the joy of discovery for the reader. They’re the kinds of details which makes one think, “I hope I can think of something as satisfying and original as that when I come into this genre.” With the f-word only used the once, and in a humorous way, this is a fairytale suitable for a contemporary British audience of just about any age.
[easyreview title=”Stardust” cat1title=”Plot” cat1detail=”Compelling storyline which hangs together well” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Imaginative world” cat2detail=”Very well-imagined, delightful and enchanting in detail.” cat2rating=”5″ summary=”A satisfying story of good versus evil.”]