Once upon a time …
That famous opening line conjures vivid pictures of storybooks, princes, princesses, magic spells, wicked witches, dragons, epic battles, and curses broken by the power of a kiss.
Some of us associate it with children's stories, and write off the kingdom of make-believe as "kid stuff." But lately, since Peter Jackson's big screen adaptation of The Lord of the Rings and the publishing phenomenon of Harry Potter, grownups have become an enthusiastic audience for fairy tales. And more and more authors and artists are creating fantasies specifically tailored for adults.
When it comes to "adult fairy tales," author Neil Gaiman is becoming one of the world's most popular tale-spinners. His roots are deeply planted in traditional fairy tales from Andersen to Grimm, and he fuses differing cultural mythologies into striking new visions that convey spiritual ideas. Popular stories like the Sandman comic book series, Neverwhere, and American Gods have won him a loyal following.
Stardust is not your typical Gaiman yarn. It appeals to a younger audience with its wit, whimsy, romance, and elements of children's stories. Some conservative evangelicals and Christian ministries might condemn it, saying its focus on witches and spell-casting will lure children into dangerous territory. But as in J.K. Rowling's stories, the magic here is distinctly the stuff of make believe. Here, spells and charms and curses give us a way of thinking about the many differing gifts and powers we possess. They vividly illustrate the conflict of good and evil, the consequences of sinful choices, and the difference between love and lust.
But there is a problem with Stardust that should give parents pause before they let their children run ...1
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