Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

By Neil Gaiman

Rating: 4 stars

This is Neil Gaiman’s third collection of short stories. He addresses the controversial title in his introduction but since I don’t feel that I have the appropriate background for this, I’m not going to comment, one way or the other on that. The collection did seem skewed towards the dark and the macabre, with especially the first few stories being a bit grim, but there are enough points of light in there to not make reading it a slog for someone like me, who likes their fiction a bit fluffier.

Highlights include The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains… about a small man on a quest and the companion he takes with him; The Case of Death and Honey, Gaiman’s ‘Sherlock Holmes’ story which is a lot of fun; ‘And Weep, Like Alexander’, a story from a ‘shaggy dog’ anthology of the Tales from the White Hart mould; and The Sleeper and the Spindle, which mashes together some well-known fairy tales in a new and interesting way. There was also the unexpected pleasure of another ‘Shadow’ story (the protagonist of American Gods). Since the last one (in Fragile Things) he’s moved on from Scotland to Yorkshire, where he has another ‘unusual’ encounter. In the introduction to the story Gaiman says that he thinks there will be one more Shadow short, probably set in London, before he gets packed off back to America and another novel, which would be good.

I think A Calendar of Tales merits more discussion than just a one-liner as it’s a very interesting project in its own right: 12 flash fiction stories based on the answers to questions about the calendar that Gaiman asked on Twitter. The website is great, but I would definitely pay money to hold this in my hands, with dedicated artwork (something that’s already been done for The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains… and The Sleeper and the Spindle).

I liked this collection a lot. It’s not as good, in my mind, as Smoke and Mirrors, but it’s definitely better than Fragile Things. It’s classic Gaiman and is both a good introduction for newbies to Gaiman’s writing and for established fans. Oh, and it also continues his tradition of hiding stories in the book’s introduction.

Book details

ISBN: 9781472217721
Publisher: Headline
Year of publication: 2015

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