Flashback Friday: Neil Gaiman’s ‘Stardust’

Olivia O’Neil ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer


“The tale started, as many tales have started, in Wall” (Stardust, 1).

Author Neil Gaiman creates distant worlds that we all wish we could be a part of – or at the very least visit. One of his best books is Stardust, published in February of 1999 by Avon. Something amazing that Gaiman does in Stardust is act like the plot’s goings-ons are normal, as if there is nothing strange about seeing a bear playing a “lugubrious hurdy-gurdy.” The first two chapters are not dedicated to setting the scene and making the reader feel comfortable, like most novels do,  but rather it is more akin to traveling to a foreign country with loads of unfamiliar customs that will take some time to pick up.

The world of Stardust is a world that any normal child would dream to be a part of. It is a world of stars that are beautiful women, pirate ships that sail through the sky, and a seemingly average boy that learns he is extraordinary. This is a book that implants the idea that anything is possible in its child readers and awakens a childlike wonder in adults. And this book is not only fun and magic; there is also quite a bit of danger, some romance, and even some Deathly Hallows-esque, boring-yet-necessary, camping in the woods.

Possibly the best thing about this book, though, is the actual writing, which is almost lyrical. Gaiman chooses to write in a Victorian style, and he manages to do it in a way that isn’t intimidating or pretentious. The author does not talk down to the reader, nor does his message get lost in the artful prose. When describing people or complex scenery, Gaiman takes the time to step away from the story to paint the images with words, as if he is exploring this world with the audience.

Like with most books, returning to Stardust after a long period of time makes it easy to pick up on things that have been missed the first time around. As a writer or a composer of stories in any form, this book can teach a reader quite a bit. The way Gaiman carefully chooses words to set a scene, or even just the pacing of the story, makes the book worth rereading. After some more formal education and exposure to other stories, it is easy to see that Stardust is not just something that kids will enjoy because the story is fun; it is actually a good book.

So if a person were to find himself lacking some childlike wonder and in need of a little adventure in his monotonous life, then Stardust would be the perfect choice. But a quick warning for anyone who has not yet read any of Gaiman’s work: this is a gateway-book, and there will be many more adventures ahead.


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