Earlier this week, I started reading Stardust and was enchanted. It's a fantasy where a young man, really more of a boy, crosses a wall into Faerie to look for a fallen star for his true love. And none of that description turns out the way you think it will.
Each chapter, or section of a chapter, adds a new dimension or opens a new door in the faerie world, but they're all tied together. Older son (who read half of it today) said that it's like Patricia McKillip's books in being very complex, but different in that you can understand all of what's going on.
For the first half of the book, I read only a chapter or two a day in order to savor it, but today I finished the rest. I didn't even stop long enough to think of stopping.
Like usual, I don't want to give anything away, but here's a taste of the book that won't divulge the plot.
The events that follow transpired many years ago. Queen Victoria was on the throne of England, but she was not yet the black-clad widow of Windsor: she had apples in her cheeks and a spring in her step, and Lord Melbourne often had cause to upbraid, gently, the young queen for her flightiness. She was, as yet, unmarried, although she was very much in love.
Mr. Charles Dickens was serializing his novel Oliver Twist; Mr. Draper had just taken the first photograph of the moon, freezing her pale face on cold paper; Mr. Morse had recently announced a way of transmitting messages down metal wires.
Had you mentioned magic or Faerie to any of them, they would have smiled at you disdainfully, except, perhaps for Mr. Dickens, at the time a young man, and beardless. He would have looked at you wistfully. [p. 4]
A movie of Stardust is coming out this year with Peter O'Toole, Robert DeNiro, and Michelle Pfeiffer, and with Charlie Cox and Claire Danes playing the two main characters. Even the movie website is charming. Click on video to see a preview (though, if you're like me, you'll want to see it after you read the book). It looks like they pretty much kept to the story.
Stardust won the 1999 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. The list of winners is an excellent place to go for book suggestions. It includes books I've loved such as Sunshine by Robin McKinley, The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip, and Tamsin by Peter Beagle, and also books I'd like to read by John Crowley, Orson Scott Card, and Diana Wynne Jones.
If you want more reading ideas, the list of nominees also looks promising - adding more authors that I love such as Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, Stephen R. Donaldson, Charles DeLint, R.A. MacAvoy (the Damiano Trilogy which is wonderful), Barbara Hambly, James Blaylock, Pamela Dean, Patricia Wrede, Eva Ibbotson, Cornelia Funke, and J.K. Rowling. In other words, why have I never heard of this award before?!
Neil Gaiman has a weblog here.
CNN has a 1999 interview with Neil Gaiman here. For example:
All fine and fun, he says, but adults deserve more than comic books. They deserve, he claims, their own fairy tales.
"As adults, we are discriminated against. As adults, we are an oppressed majority because nobody writes us fairy tales. I think the problem is not that ... we grow out of fairy tales. The problem is nobody writes us fairy tales; nobody gives us fairy tales that are as satisfying, as meaty, as filled with real people and real incident, as the things that we remember from when we were children," Gaiman said during a recent extensive interview with CNN Interactive... "You can't go back and re-read Snow White and get the same magic you got out of it when you were six," he said. So he is creating fairy tales for adults, beginning with his first novel, "Neverwhere", in 1997, and continuing with his latest, "Stardust".
"As an author I've never forgotten how to daydream," Gaiman said. It comes naturally. "It's not something that I tend to think about very much."