Fantasy/SF Book Reviews

The Internet Writing Journal, January 1999
Page Two of Two

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Spike, February 1999.
Hardcover, 256 pages.
ISBN: 0380977281.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Cover of Stardust
by Neil Gaiman In Victorian England, there is a tiny town in the countryside called Wall, so named for its large stone wall which keeps the inhabitants in and the intruders out. Every nine years, vigilance is relaxed sufficiently to allow the wonderful market fair to take place in the meadow outside Wall. In the town of Wall young Tristan Thorn adores the remote Victoria. Impulsively, one evening he swears to Victoria that he will bring her the falling star they both see in order to prove his love. With a bit of help from his father -- who's never let on that there is something quite odd about Tristan's parentage -- Tristan goes through the barrier into the dangerous and exciting realm of Faerie which lies outside Wall. From the beginning, Faerie doesn't seem as strange as it should and he seems to know which direction to travel in order to find the star. But dangers surround him on all sides and he immediately falls into one adventure after another. He finds the star -- but it turns out to be a young woman who is not the least bit interested in journeying to Wall and gives him no end of trouble. To make matters worse, he is not the only one on the trail of the star -- some very nasty personages indeed also are on her trail. There is love, danger, excitement and laughs for the reader as Tristan determines to complete his quest and find his heart's desire.

Gaiman is at his best when his stupendous imagination is bent towards his full-length novels, such as the brilliant fantasy Neverwhere, and Stardust proves this to be true. A richly imagined world with plenty of adventure, true love and some truly hilarious throw-away lines make Stardust a darkly comic treat for fantasy lovers. If you haven't discovered Neil Gaiman yet, rush out to buy his latest book immediately. You won't be disappointed. Highly Recommended.

--Claire E. White


Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Avon, November 1998.
Hardcover, 339 pages.
ISBN: 0345409337.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Cover of Smoke and Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman Smoke and Mirrors is an anthology of short stories, poems and musings from the brilliant author of the graphic novel series Sandman and the bestselling dark fantasy Neverwhere. An eclectic mix, the narratives include "Chivalry" in which an elderly woman finds the Holy Grail in a London second-hand shop, "Bay Wolf," a story poem which is a cross between Beowulf with Baywatch, "Murder Mysteries," which explores the real reasons Lucifer became a fallen Angel, the shocking modern day fable "Tastings," "Snow, Glass and Apple," a really inspiredly twisted version of the classic fairytale Snow White, "The Price," a tale any cat lover will appreciate, and "Wedding Present" told in the friendly introduction, in which a married couple gets a shocking glimpse at what could have been. The themes of love, loss, death and the end of the world are all here, explored in Gaiman's dark, witty and satirically funny style. Highly Recommended.

--Claire E. White


The Wild Hunt: Vengeance Moon by Jocelin Foxe

Eos, September 1998.
Paperback, 312 pages.
ISBN: 0380799111.
Ordering information:
Amazon.com. | Amazon.co.uk


Cover of The Wild Hunt : Vengeance Moon
by Jocelin Foxe Lady Richenza, whose family has suffered greatly at the hands of the present cruel regime, takes the drastic step of summoning The Wild Hunt: a legendary group of cursed and immortal men who, when called, will undertake the bidding of the summoner. From all walks of life, the men have all been cursed by the three goddesses. They have one full moon cycle to accomplish the summoner's task, or they will be consigned to a fiery hellish death. But there is an "out" clause in the curse. If any one of the men can find true love which can keep him from heeding the summons back to sleep at the end of the mission, he will be set free of the curse. Leading the Wild Hunt is Walter of Jacin. Hidden princes, noblemen, a thief and commoners compose the other members of the Wild Hunt during this summoning. The story follows the group's mission to revenge the death of Lady Richenza's brother and topple the present ruling regime. They will encounter betrayal, intrigue, battle and the possibility of a love great enough to set one of them free as they pursue their quest.

The premise of The Wild Hunt is an intriguing one. The adventure is exciting and the main characters are interesting. However, the bewildering number of characters and the lengthy digressions into past history and genealogical issues at times threaten to derail the story. Some judicial editing and tightening would have helped immensely. Linda Reames Fox and Joyce Cottrell (writing as Jocelyn Fox) show great promise, however; their next outing should be interesting to read.


Fantasy/SF Page One | Fantasy/SF Page Two

Return to Book Reviews Index

More from Writers Write