A long time ago, I read Neil Gaiman’s series of Sandman graphic novels. I was introduced to them by a friend and it was against my better judgement that I started to read them. Making an early start on my career as an intellectual snob, I reckoned they weren’t going to be up to much. Boy was I wrong! I really enjoyed the stories, the characters and the clear and shining light that is Gaiman’s imagination. As a result, I had been meaning to read one of Gaiman’s novels for quite some time now.
So when looking at the genre of Urban Fantasy for The Eclectic Reader Challenge on Goodreads and I realised that I was able to choose a Gaiman, I was really pleased. I chose the one that I already had on my shelf, Stardust.
This book is quite different from what I would normally read, taking the form, as it does, of an adult fairy tale. It is a simple story but it also has depth and as with all good fairy tales it contains lessons and, of course, a happy ending.
There is a pleasantly old fashioned feel to the book. It is set in Victorian times and the folklore and mythology that is referred to seem apt for this setting. The theme of going on a quest for your heart’s desire, only to discover that it is something different from what you thought is also a tale that has been told for a long time. Yet Gaiman manages to give it a new and interesting twist.
What I really enjoyed about this novel was Gaiman’s style and the to
ne of the writing which was perfect for the telling of a fairy tale. It is like sitting down around a campfire and being told a tale that you could al
most half believe in, by that friendly fellow traveller who looks like he might have lived out the story he is telling. In fact, you leave this novel longing for a
place such as faerie to exist – how the inhabit
ants of Wall manage to exist knowing that the faerie lands are right next door is beyond me.
Having said all that, this is not a genre I am particularly fond of and while this was a fun read, I’m not sure that I would be interested in reading much more like it. I prefer my fairy tales to be darker, if truth be told and I’m not very good with happy endings either. As this is a fairy tale, the characters are quite simple and while that obviously fits with the genre, I prefer my heroes to be, at the very least, ambiguous.