Enchanting. If I had to use only one word to describe Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, it would be enchanting.
Stardust is, of course, more than that. It is a rip-roaring adventure with daring deeds and dastardly villains. It is also a charming and surprisingly bloodthirsty imagining of fairy tales. It is, above all, a love story.
There is a young man on a quest for his Heart’s Desire, though he doesn’t know it yet. There is also a fallen star, and the most unexpected use of the word ‘fuck’. There also happens to be a chorus of lewd fairies, a flirtatious tree, and a sex scene, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Stardust is not a fairy tale for adults – it is how fairy tales should be written: with humor, affection, and the ruthlessness required to say not only there is no happily ever after but life goes on as well. It is a bildungsroman that takes you by the hand into a fantastical land that is at once wholly alien and yet hauntingly familiar. You owe it to yourself to read it, if only to feel as you once undoubtedly did, lingering at the porch steps of Love, too ignorant to be scared, too young to be awed, taking that first step beyond the fields we know*.
And yes, it is superior in every way to the movie.
*with compliments to Mr. Gaiman