A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's a graphic sex scene early in the book and other references to sex and erections as the pages turn. While there's not much violence compared with other fantasy novels, there are somewhat gruesome images, especially the stabbing of a unicorn in the eye and its decapitation. Gaiman also gets in some swear words (including "f--k") and references to drinking.
What's the story?
Half-blood Tristran grew up on the human side of the wall between England and Faerie. One day, while trying to convince a local beauty to marry him -- or at least kiss him -- he promises to get her a fallen star (that happens to be a beautiful woman) that they saw shooting through the sky. Unfortunately, it (she) fell far on the other side of the wall.
So Tristran sets off through Faerie to try to find the star. But he's got some competition, as a witch-queen and her sisters want to catch the fallen star and cut out her heart while she's still alive in order to renew their youth. And, at the same time, three murderous princes set out to find the jewel that will give one of them the power to ascend their dead father's throne.
Is it any good?
This fantasy novel with a pleasant enough story didn't make much of a splash when it was first published, but it was reissued to coincide with the release of the movie version. Written in the style of a novel-length fairytale, it has both the advantages and disadvantages of that genre: Teens will appreciate the vivid magical setting and sense of surprise and wonder, but will find the lack of any character development makes it difficult for them to feel emotionally attached. In the end, it's a lovely soap bubble, bright and glittering and entertaining, but without much heart.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bringing a book to the big screen. How does the movie version compare? What gets lost or is gained by creating a movie out of a novel?
How does reading about sex and violence feel different than seeing it in a movie or experiencing it in a video game? Should parents be as concerned with the books their kids read as they are about what they see on a screen?
For kids who love fantasy and adventure
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