This is a great little Neil Gaiman book. If I was introducing Gaiman to a young reader – regardless of age – then this is one that I would steer them toward. It has all the elements one would expect from one of his novels: a little magic, some real world, a lot of good fantasy stuff and, well, a little stardust.
Tristran Thorn lives in one of those typical English villages that are often described: a pub, some shops, some farms and gap in the stone wall between the village and Faerie. No one passes through the gap except once a year when a fair is held. All manner of the wild and fantastic comes to town for the villagers to see and purchase.
Tristran is a bit of a mystery man himself having been left in a cradle with a note at the gap in the wall. When he is old enough, during his wooing of Victoria, he sets off to Faerie on an adventure to bring her back a fallen star.
All manner of adventures befall him in his hero quest. And it is a great hero quest which is important to making it a great fantasy read. The world of Faerie is exceptionally well described and it is easy for a reader to imagine exactly the ideas that the author is conveying. At one point in the story I remember thinking that it all reminded me somewhat of the adventures of Mr. Toad and the world of Toad Hall.
There are lots of happenings on the quest and I won’t go into them so that they don’t get spoilt for readers. I can tell you that there is a happily ever after but perhaps not one that readers will see coming. There were certainly a few twists toward the end that kept the ending just out of sight around the bend.
There are the usual collection of the good, the bad and the simply mad which is what most people want in a fantasy story. It is all there and told so well. The book is not long – quick readers will have devoured it in a day. Fortunately, for readers who are just discovering Neil Gaiman, there are lots of choices in his catalog so if you like this one, grab a few on your second go round the bookstore. And don’t forget to check out his graphic novel series “Sandman”.
I was introduced to Neil Gaiman by a great friend and fellow traveler and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Another 5 star read.