Admittedly, Neil Gaiman falls under the category of people, things or otherwise that I've passed over because it's so enthusiastically acclaimed among the people around me (and in general). It wasn't until earlier this year that my boyfriend turned me on to his distinctive style of writing.
The first book I read (to whet my appetite, I was told) was Fragile Things. I didn't really think Gaiman would be for me after that, given that some of the stories within were rather dark. A chance for American Gods proved otherwise, and then a look at a list of his other works quickly revealed that two films I love, Coraline and Stardust, are based on books written by him! Now I've been converted.
Stardust is a story about a boy, raised in the small town of Wall, who ventures out to Faerie to find and retrieve a fallen star for the prettiest girl in town. He finds himself (and true love) along the way, through his adventures that lead him through forests and mountains, encounters with sky pirates, witches, and even unicorns.
Stardust is a sweet fairy tale for adults to enjoy (for I'd be hesitant to hand this to anyone below the age of 14).
My only complaint about the book is that I felt it wrapped up a little too quickly. Instead of concentrating on a grand cast and a focus on developing characters over anything else, it felt to me that Gaiman was building a beautiful world for us instead, vividly jumping out of the pages and latching onto our senses. There was indeed a decently large cast, but the story was divided into separate plot lines, making it easier to get the entire story through various narrated perspectives. Thus, by the time we got to the last chapter, there was a bit of a rush to give us some closure on what would happen to all the characters whose stories we'd been following. The epilogue did much to leave a more satisfying image in my mind to end the story, though.
Despite the speedy resolution of the various plot lines presented in the book, Stardust is one I would recommend to anyone who likes to enjoy reading a story with plenty of heart and a loving portrayal of a world that isn't just for childrens tales. While you're at it, if you haven't seen the movie adaptation I also strongly recommend watching for it is one of those rare films that is both true to the novel (in spirit) and still exciting and wonderfully heart-warming even with the inevitable changes that come with an adaptation of a story from one format to another.