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It’s no secret that I love Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I came to it late, but I especially love the version illustrated by Charles Vess. But then, I love Gaiman and I love Vess, so that should be a no-brainer, right?
There are lots of not-very-nice people running throughout Faerie in Gaiman’s version of the fabled realm, but probably the real villains of the piece are the Lilim, especially the oldest one.
When the three Lilim are first introduced, they are ancient hags stumbling around a filthy, disgusting hovel they share. But there’s an odd thing. There’s a mirror within their home that doesn’t reflect, but, rather, shows three beautiful women in a beautiful castle looking out at them and approving and disapproving of their actions. “The three women in the mirror were also the Lilim: but whether they were the successors to the old women, or their shadow-selves, or whether only the peasant cottage in the woods was real, or if, somewhere, the Lilim lived in a black hall, with a fountain in the shape of a mermaid playing in the courtyard of stars, none knew for certain, and none but the Lilim could say.”
As the book gets going, a shooting star falls to Earth and sets off a whole chain of events. The eldest Lilim (Lilith?) is one pursuer. She is the lucky crone chosen to go fetch the star for its powerful magic. She gets to eat their last little bit of star heart (you read that right) and so regains her lost youth, beauty, and full power to enable her to effectively capture the fallen star.
With her powers fully restored, the eldest Lilim goes on a rampage. She is merciless in pursuit of what she desires. I think part of what makes her so frightening is that she is so entirely dispassionate in destroying people. There’s no feeling in it at all. She needs a goat to pull her cart? She just transforms the hapless, witless young man who happens to be walking by. It doesn’t even cross her mind that the man or his family might object.
And then there’s her whole plan. The stars in Faerie are beautiful women dancing across the heavens. The Lilim use their hearts for powerful magic. And that’s bad enough, but it gets worse. The heart must be cut from their living bodies. It gets a little worse still. The heart of a happy, contented star has the most powerful magic. So, ideally, the Lilim lure the star into some sort of comfortable surroundings and then wham! Cut the beating heart from her body. And then I think they dry it and eat it. Yuck. That’s just downright evil.
Michelle Pfeiffer played the eldest witch in the movie, in which she is named Lamia. She did a pretty good job.
Are there any literary witches who stand out for you? Have you read this book and/or seen the movie? What did you think?
Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!
Who do ya love?
Or love to hate?
You know you’ve got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!
Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.
Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.