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Stardust    by Neil Gaiman order for
by Neil Gaiman
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2003 (1999)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Catch a falling star ... that's all seventeen-year-old, daydreaming Tristran Thorne has to do to win a kiss from lovely Victoria Forester of the town of Wall, a place that borders on Faerie. Tristran's father, Dunstan Thorn, went through the Wall one May Day and gained his 'Heart's Desire', the results being baby Tristran and a glass snowdrop. Now it's his son's turn.

But Tristran is not the only one after the star. The sons (living and dead) of the lord of the Stormhold need it to win the Mastership on their father's death, and the Lilim witch-queens are after it to regain their youth and to extend their already overextended lives. A little, hairy man helps Tristran and gives this pragmatic advice about Victoria, 'I'd tell her to go shove her face in the pig-pen, and go out and find another one who'll kiss you without askin' for the earth.'

Of course, our young hero ignores these words of wisdom. He does catch and chain the star, who happens to be a young woman (named Yvaine) with a broken leg. She calls him 'Dunderhead. Bumpkin. Dolt' and that's just a beginning. They save a unicorn from a lion, win a fight with a witch-queen, and lose one to a harridan in a gypsy caravan, with a small, chained bird.

They eventually find their way back to Wall, but Tristran's heart's desire is not what it used to be, the small bird is more than she seems, and the star is bound by ties stronger than any chain. In Stardust, Neil Gaiman gives us a delightful and heartwarming ramble through a Faerie that is often perilous but never trite. This is one to read and re-read many times.

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