Friday, April 10, 2015

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman Review

Title: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Author: Neil Gaiman
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Literary Collection
Series: N/A
Star Rating: I rated each piece individually, but overall, this memorable collection is well worth having.

This book was given to me by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I love Neil Gaiman. Always have, always will. No matter what, I can always count on his work to inspire me and stir my imagination. It's a little scary how Gaiman weaves stories--it's damn near effortless, as a matter of fact. (Or, at least, it seems that way! Lol.) The only one of his novels I've read is Coraline, but after this luminous collection, I think it's pretty safe to say that I'll be looking for more of his work, as soon as humanly possible!

I like to give two ratings to a literary collection: one for each individual piece of the collection, and one for the actual collection itself. I'd say overall, this is a very good collection to have for any Neil Gaiman fan, or even for those who don't know his work every well. It's a well-rounded book: there are stories and poems for every taste, but it's all done with his dark, playful signature.

Making the Chair, 5 out of 5 Stars. A fun, mysterious poem about writing, creativity, and making chairs. A perfect poem to set the tone for the rest of the collection.

The Lunar Labyrinth, 4 out of 5 Stars. A darkly chilling tale of moon people, and the labyrinth they burned down, this story was intriguing and frightening, creepy and enjoyable.

The Thing About Cassandra, 4 out of 5 Stars. A twisty, odd story of two friends who seemed to have made each other up, this story was fun because of the romantic relationship. Very fun and sweet.

Down to a Sunless Sea, 5 out of 5 Stars. Easily my favorite story of the volume so far, a darkly chilling story of a son lost at sea and ended by his crew, as told by his grief stricken mother. Amazing! Pulled off with Neil Gaiman's signature flair.

"The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains", 4.5 out of 5 Stars. This story had a distinct fairy tale feel. I loved it. A dwarf and an old man journey to the mountains of The Isle of Skye in the hopes of returning home wealthy. What ensues instead is a fight for survival, and quite possibly an encounter with an evil spirit. Another contender for the best story in the volume.

My Last Landlady, 4 out of 5 Stars. This short story was kind of weird. A murderous, cantankerous old lady finds good company in the narrator, at a terrible price. Kind of strange, but like all of Gaiman's stories, well worth the read.

Adventure, 2 out of 5 Stars. A mother and son have clearly different definitions of the word adventure. I had high expectations for this one, but it just didn't jump off the page enough for me.
Orange, 5 out of 5 Stars. An oddly intriguing little story about a family, aliens, and naturally, the color orange. This story was unique in that it was told in list format, in the form of answered questions. Highly enjoyable.

A Calendar of Tales, 5 out of 5 Stars. A miniature collection of tales within this book, one for every month of the year, are all teasing little snippets of stories, varied, but all beautiful and full of skill. Yet another favorite story! I love this book so far!

The Case of Death and Honey, 4.5 out of 5 Stars. Gaiman takes on a familiar character in literature: Sherlock Holmes! An exciting, wry tale involving bees and China, Baker Street and honey. An old man goes to a mountainside and learns how to keep bees, and maybe discover the secret of youth. This piece was fun in a classical kind of way. A worthy homage to one of the fathers of crime literature.

The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, A warm and tender homage to the titan of science fiction, this story completely warmed me to Bradbury's fiction. (Yay for Fahrenheit 451! Lol.) A scary mediation on old age and memories, this one is lovely, a true valentine to the father of the science fiction genre. 5 out of 5 Stars.

Jerusalem, 3 out of 5 Stars. I didn't really get this one. Morrison and his wife, Delores, go to Jerusalem, where a 'city specific' illness takes Delores, and maybe they find God, and their faith? I liked the ageless wonder of the ancient city, but it was muddled and confusing.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag, 4 out of 5 Stars. A creepy story of darkness and monsters, I expected more from this one. A boyfriend and his girlfriend's brother bond over a dark night in a drafty house, but the attic hides mysterious creatures that may have a craving for human flesh. The ending was my favorite part of this one.

An Invocation of Incuriousity, 1 out of 5 Stars. This story was confusing, I didn't really get it, or what was going on. A man called Farfal the Unfortunate goes on a journey to a new world-ours-out of the nothingness of his own empty universe. A valiant story, but it just wasn't for me.

Weep, Like Alexander, 3.5 Out of 5 Stars. An uninventor makes quite the ruckus at a local pub, recounting the achievements of his life and career as an uninventor. It's literally just as it sounds: he unravels the fabric of creation, from its first spark in the mind. Odd, but definitely funny, and engaging.

Nothing O'Clock, 4.5 Out of 5 Stars. Doctor Who: Who isn't a fan this days? (ha.) Gaiman weaves a story straight out of Matt Smith's season, where the lovable 11th Doctor and his sassy companion, Amy Pond, fight to save Earth from the deadly Kin, who seek the destruction of all of humanity. A little weird, and kooky, but I loved the way Gaiman played with the tone of this story.

Pearls: A Fairy Tale, 5 out of 5 Stars. Fairy tales are like literary crack to me. And this one is just wonderful, full of allusions to classic ones, with just a hint of darkness and terror. The ending was frightening and mysterious. Gaiman has the ability to marry beautiful prose with engaging premises and vivid imagery. This story was highly enjoyable.

Kether to Malkuth, 4 Out of 5 Stars. A story about a duke that has everything, this strange narrative bends the laws of time and space, leading the duke to venture towards getting a heart. Once there, he faces what he truly wants for the first time. I enjoyed the style of it, but it was a bit hard to follow.

Feminine Endings, 5 out of 5 Stars. A tender, pining love letter from a statue to the love of her life. I really enjoyed the point of view of this, as well as the sweet, but almost intrusive, intimacy the lovelorn narrator provides. The story fits its title, and I greatly enjoyed it.

Observing the Formalities, 2 out of 5 Stars. An odd little piece, narrated by someone with a clear love of manners and perfection.. To the point where she is completely alone. I didn't really get this piece either.

The Sleeper and the Spindle, 5 out of 5 Stars. My first time reading this was in Rags and Bones: Twists on Timeless Tales. (With the gorgeous illustration as well!) A fun, darkly playful rill on two beloved fairy tales, a queen breaks an ancient curse with a price that could be too high to pay. One of my favorite Neil Gaiman yarns, if not the favorite!

Witch Work, 5 out of 5 Stars. I've grown to love Neil Gaiman's poetry as much as his fiction. A rhyming, rhythmic poem about an old witch who hid her life in a books, casting and binding spells, no company but clocks. I really liked the tone and flow of this one; it was a fantastic little tidbit.

In Relig Odhrain, 2 out of 5 Stars. The closing piece of the collection, this odd little poem tells the origin of two saints, one evil, and the other, something not quite from this realm. I didn't really get it, it was kind of weird.

My only complaint was that this collection didn't have Black Dog, and I thought that was included. But nonetheless, I really enjoyed this beautiful collection of stories. I'm so happy to have been able to read it. Next on deck: Vanished by E.E. Cooper!

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