So, I’ve been meaning to read Stardust since I saw the film back in 2007, but I’ve never gotten around to it. A year ago Melissa @ Avid Reader’s Musings compared it to The Princess Bride by William Goldman, which is one of my all-time favorite books, and yet I still didn’t read it. Neil Gaiman writes for Doctor Who, and I still didn’t read it!
I don’t know what took me so long, but now that I’m finally reading I have very mixed feelings. I chose to read the graphic novel version, which can be found under the title Stardust: Being a Romance Within the Realms of Fairie by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. I feel like the illustrations really add a great element to the story. I also think the illustrations add to my conflicted feelings.
The story is beautifully written and the illustrations are gorgeous. There is the feeling that I’m reading a very long, sophisticated picture book. I start to immerse myself in the Fairie realms. BAM! Curse words and sex scenes. Ugh, so jarring!
I’m not a prude. In most books, a few curse words and mild sex scenes wouldn’t bother me. In this book though, they just seem out of place, and they make it difficult for me to inhabit the world Gaiman and Vess are building.
Oddly enough, The Princess Bride is full of asides where the author talks about random things, and these don’t bother me in the least. I think it’s because they are part of the book within a book charm of the story. Instead of jarring me out of the story, they actually pull me farther into William Goldman’s doubly fictional world. Okay, I feel a re-read coming on!
Going back to Stardust, it really is beautifully written (see the quote below), and I’m enjoying the vast majority of the story. There are just a few incongruous parts.
It reached the edge of the wood, where it paused for several minutes, to lick its wounds with its red, red tongue, and then, purring like an earthquake, the lion slipped away into the forest.