Stardust is a 1998 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s been a part of my personal backlog of books to read by the author for a while, and in a lot of ways it was not what I’d been expecting. The story concerns the small village of Wall in England, known for the ancient wall that is its namesake that separates our world from that of the Faerie. The only way to pass through the wall is a small passage, typically guarded to keep village folk from wandering into the unknown. Tristran Thorn, however, is hopelessly in love with the captivating yet disinterested Victoria Forester, and after the two witness a falling star he pledges to fetch it for her in exchange for whatever his heart desires. Though it has landed beyond the wall, Tristran will stop at nothing to fulfill his oath and win Victoria’s heart. This is complicated, however, when he finds that the fallen star is not a celestial rock, but a beautiful young woman named Yvaine, with no interest in coming back with him.Read More »
Coraline is a 2002 horror fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. Coraline, the titular character, and her parents have moved into a new flat in a big old house that is divided into several apartments. They share the property with some colourful characters; two aged actresses below them and an eccentric old man above them. There is a vacant flat next to theirs that is unoccupied, the passageway in their place bricked up behind a door in their parlour. Listless and left by her busy parents to try and entertain herself in the waning days of summer, Coraline can’t help feeling oddly fixated on this door, even though her mother has already shown her what’s on the other side. Reopening it on her own, she finds a long dark corridor where there ought to bricks. The passage leads her to a world that mirrors her own, full of wondrous delights and populated by another mother and father with buttons for eyes, who soon turn out to be far more malevolent than she first realizes.Read More »
As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini—the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik—the gentle giant; Inigo—the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen—the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.
It was impossible for me to start reading The Princess Bride without some preconceptions. The film alone is such a huge cultural influence that even without having seen it or read the book I knew some things about it. I think you’d be a little hard-pressed to find someone in North America who has not heard the line “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I also knew of the film’s narrative frame; a grandfather reading the story to his ill grandson who at first has misgivings about hearing it. What I didn’t expect was the bizarre metanarrative that the novel had in store for me.Read More »