by Neil Gaiman
Harper Perennial, New York, 2006. First published in 1999. 250 pages.
Starred review. (Stardusted review?)
My son was right. I should have read the book before I saw the movie.
The fact is, I loved the movie. One of my favorite movies ever. A delightful experience to watch.
Yes, the book is wonderful. A fairy tale story that’s truly diverting. But can it be? I liked the movie better.
Tristan Thorn grew up in the village of Wall, on the border of Faerie. There’s a story about his birth that some of the older folks in Wall know about.
Tristan is trying to win the heart of his true love, when they see a star fall over in Faerie. Tristan promises to get it for her, not realizing that in Faerie, stars are beautiful women, daughters of the Moon. When Tristan finds the Star, she’s not happy about Tristan dragging her off to show his girl.
Other, more sinister forces, are also after the Star, whose name is Yvaine. Tristan and Yvaine end up traveling a journey together with many perils.
I’m afraid I found the original story less satisfying than the story in the movie. For the movie, there was a big climactic scene with a big showdown with everyone who is after Yvaine, and Tristan must defeat them. In the book, they seem to escape from most perils by virtue of simple luck.
But the movie does show the same story — cleaned up a little. (The book is for adults, and contains a few “mature” details, which are cleaned up in the movie along with the more unified plot.) That story is truly delightful, in both its forms.
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