Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2001, HarperCollins
I have been meaning to read this book ever since Smart Bitch Candy went squee-crazy over it a couple months ago. Then the movie came out, which I really wanted to see, but it's just wrong to watch a movie before reading the book it's based on, so I finally got my ass in gear.
Tristran Thorn is a slightly goofy young man living in the town of Wall, in Victorian England. He has a serious case of puppy love for the town beauty, Victoria Forrester. In an effort to convince her to marry him, Tristran promises to cross the wall (the mysterious border between our world and the world of Faerie) and bring Victoria back a fallen star. He sets out to do so and soon finds the fallen star, which he is surprised to discover is a young woman named Yvaine. Trouble is, Tristran isn't the only one after the star. A trio of witches, some princes, and assorted other magical beings are also after her for various, mostly nefarious, reasons.
When I start a fantasy novel I expect it to be three things: a bit dense, fairly complicated, and very, very long. I know that this doesn't apply to every book in the genre (and I don't read a ton of fantasy), but it is what I generally expect. Stardust is none of these things. It is airy and whimsical; not insubstantial---we see Tristran's quest change him from an awkward boy into a confident man---but there are none of the complicated rules of the alternate reality that fantasy books often have. I felt like I just floated through the book, the world created in seeming haphazard fashion, but coming together to magical perfection in the end. It is just charming and winsome, and really very funny.
In the acknowledgments Gaiman calls it a fairy story for adults. And I think that about sums it up. :)
Now about the movie. Because, yes, I did see it. And I really loved it. They added tons of action scenes, some of the subtlety is naturally lost, and the ending is slightly Disney-fied, but I think it still captured the tone of the book well.
And look at Charlie Cox. Ack! Adorable!