‘Make sure you secure your own mask before reading. Before being transported to world filled with witches, watchers and big black bees, with deathless Kin and pirate girls, with things that prowl in the darkness beyond the circle fire, to find the Shadder lurking at your journey’s end. But then what happens?
There’s always something waiting for you.
There’s always more. Just keep turning the pages.
‘We each have our little triggers.”
Short stories were never really on my radar growing up. I always preferred big series that had lots of depth and that I could really sink my teeth into. In fact, I think I’d be correct in stating that this is the first anthology of short stories I’ve ever even picked up, let alone read. But, having read Gaiman’s book ‘The Graveyard Book’ and his bestselling team up with Terry Pratchett ‘Good Omens’ I felt like if there was any author who could entice me to try short fiction it would be Gaiman. So, when I saw this interesting looking book in my local bookstore I thought why not give it a go?
All in all, the overall effect is that I am incredibly entertained, very frustrated and left with the overwhelming sense of needing more. Gaiman is an immensely clever writer who grips you from the very first page.
In my creative writing class this year I’ve had to write a few short stories myself and I found it very difficult to fit what I considered to be a full and well rounded story with a beginning, middle and end into such a small format. Gaiman has no difficulty and I would say that he actually excels under such restrictions. He was clearly made to take advantage of the format and manages to write a full, intriguing story in anything from 2-50 pages with seemingly faultless ease. You can’t fail to be impressed by his prowess while reading these stories. It appears not only does he have full control of the genre but also is never short of an idea of two.
Each story was unique and fantastic in itself and although all the stories fit together in the anthology perfectly they were all very different. Tales of revenge, murder, fear, curious incidents, featuring characters such as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who himself to sweeten the pot. Personally, I particularly liked Gaiman’s unusual but wondrous takes on well known fairy tales that for me had a playful feminist twist that was just enough to put a smile on my face. Who doesn’t love kick ass Queens choosing their own destinies?
Although I did find that some of the stories I found so interesting and engaging the shorter format left me a little disappointed and wishing there was more I suppose thats more from me not being used to reading short stories rather than any reflection of the work itself. I can definitely tell that over the years this will be a book I will come back to again and again for that interesting story about the little man and the mountain cave, or the strange Cassandra that never was. Considering how unsettling some of the stories are Gaiman manages to make everything just realistic enough to give you a chill but just fantastic enough to be otherworldly and not take you too far outside of your comfort zone.
To be honest, I loved every minute of reading this book and even read it all in two days which is something I haven’t done with a book in a long time! I absolutely adored the quirky and sometimes odd way Gaiman approaches storytelling. He’s refreshing, unusual but easy to fall in love with. I’m going to have to start collecting his work now just to satisfy my newfound hunger for his style and warmth.
Definitely deserved 5 stars from me.