Stardust by Neil Gaiman
It’s magical, it’s mystical, it’s wandering, it’s beautiful, it’s mysterious, and it’s wonderful.
Stardust is the story of a young man, part of the normal world and part of the faerie world, who travels into the faerie world in order to retrieve a star and prove his love. What he finds is a world of magic, deception, and love.
The way I imagine this book is if the entrance to Narnia weren’t in a wardrobe, but a passage through a wall, visible to all townsfolk, but unattainable and mysterious and cloaked in woodland. The occupants of both worlds come together only once every nine years, for a market of mystery and delight, but otherwise there are guards at the wall, ensuring no one passes through. Except Tristran, who leaves in hopes of redeeming his worthiness and love for a woman he only thinks he loves, and returns knowing what love truly is.
I also saw a lot of Tom Bombadil in Stardust, the way the trees talk and move and have a mind of their own, and how the long passage is riddled with helpful travelers and narrow escapes.
In some ways, I also saw Stardust as a more magical, hopeful version of Neverwhere. Both male protagonists are somewhat of a nothing in the beginning, but travels through the “other” worlds and companionships with strong female characters, changes them. Tristran irritated me much less so than Richard, however, and the star was a delightful character on her own, perhaps my favorite. I even enjoyed the witch-queen, as horrid as she was at times.
Just as it was in Neverwhere, at times, Stardust was slow, the plot cumbersome and the imaginings of trees and wearily traveling taxing on my brain. But the way the story came together, the way the characters interweaved, and the nervousness of the plot made up for those moments, and the book ended on a high note of lyricism, hope, and beauty.