I’m always down for a good fairy tale, which is probably why Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, since he is also always down to write a good fairy tale. Having seen the movie version of this story before reading the book, there were a few bits where I preferred the movie version, but mostly the book version wins out.
Tristran lives in Wall – a town with a wall, surprisingly. The wall borders Faerie. One day, when shy Tristran works up the courage to ask the prettiest girl in the village on a walk, they see a falling star. Tristran promises to bring the girl the star if she promises to essentially marry him. Tristan ventures past the wall in Faerie, where things aren’t as they seem. The star turns out to be a Yvaine, a living, breathing lady and not a lump of space rock.
Tristran is not much of a main character, instead being a collection of affable, but bumbling British traits. In fact, that’s part of the reason I gave this one four stars out of five, because Tristran could easily been switched with Richard from Neverwhere and neither one would kick up much of a fuss about it about the sudden change in time and setting.
I also missed the inclusion of Captain Shakespeare, who was added into the movie, but was a bit player in the book. I missed his “you do you, who cares what anyone else thinks” drag subplot. But, I have a soft spot for drag queens, so. And since I also can’t shake being a hopeless romantic, I did prefer the movie version where Yvaine and Tristran, once he ages, decide to go live among the stars together. My cynical side is appalled at me, but there it is.
The biggest win of the book over the movie, though, is the treatment of the witches, especially near the end. I like the good sportsmanship between hero/heroines and villains, which was a similar to the ending in Uprooted. it’s more interesting when the villain has motivations the reader can empathize with, just not the means they went about trying to achieve them.