Completion Date: June 30, 2007
Pages: 352
Publication Year: 2001
Owned Prior to 2007

Reason for Reading: It's Neil Gaiman, need I say more?

In Neil Gaiman's richly imagined fiction, anything is possible. And the proof is in the telling in this extraordinary collection of short stories. Discover within these pages miraculous inventions and curious characters: an elderly widow who finds the Holy Grail tucked beneath an old fur coat in a thrift store, a terrified boy who barters for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks, a young couple who receives a wedding gift that gradually reveals a chilling alternative history of their marriage. Smoke and Mirrors will dazzle your senses, touch your heart -- and haunt your dreams.

I noticed it had been a while since I read Neil Gaiman, so I decided to pick up one of his books. I do not know why I am so slow reading him, I like him well enough, but I take a while to get around to the authors that I like. I imagine the trick is to like less authors...

I have the worst time writing reviews for short story collections because I am not sure really what to say. I liked all the short stories in this collection for the most part, I was reading along trying to figure out which one my favourite one was, but I found that there were a couple I was not a big fan of, but overall, the stories stand up well next to each other. I had a hard time saying which one was my favourite. I did really like one about Santa Claus, I thought it was very creative. There were a few other retellings of popular tales in there as well, one of my favourite being a retelling of Snow White.

This collection was a very varied group. There was straight fantasy, some horrorish stuff, even stuff that was almost science fiction in nature. Some of the stories were one page long, while others were several pages in length. I found that the stories all worked well together, even if I was not always sure what the thread was that held them all together. I am also not a huge reader of short stories, I prefer novels, but Gaiman appears to be good no matter what form he is using.

Parting Thoughts: I know I do not do this justice. I started out taking notes on all the short stories, but I found that was taking away from my enjoyment, so I just started reading without the notes. The collection starts off very well, though, the first story is related to King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail. Overall, another great read from Neil Gaiman. (So far, Good Omens is still my favourite Gaiman. I know a lot of people like Stardust or Neverwhere as their favourite, but that one is mine. It might have a lot to do with the fact it was my first Gaiman.)


This was the first "book" I read of his and I wasn't a massive fan. I really liked the early stories and the late ones (I really liked the one about Snow Wite), but the ones in the middle didn't really grab me. I will give it another go at some point though.

The Snow White one was great. I just don't really like short story collections, I am more of a novel person.

I've never read any Neil Gaiman books before, but have Stardust in my TBR pile - must get around to it!

Stardust is one of my favourites.

Your point about people's 'first Gaiman' is, I think, pretty dead on. Eventhough I had read Sandman first, my first Gaiman novel was Neverwhere and it is by far my favorite. I still maintain from a purely critical standpoint that Stardust is probably his most well written novel, but Neverwhere holds such a special place in my heart. The experience of reading it was the first experience I had as an adult where I felt like someone had reached inside my head and pulled out a daydream of mine and made it into a story. It was incredible. I still get a thrill every time I read it.

As for short story reviews, I like the way that they do them over on SF Signal as far as rating each story, but it takes alot of work.

What I did for Fragile Things was just go back and talked about some of the stories I liked alot and one that I hated. You are correct in that they are not as easy to review as other books.

I read Good Omens about a year before reading another Gaiman, too, so that might be a big part of it as well. I agree with you, though, Stardust is probably his most well-written.

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About Me

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Since I was a little girl I have been fascinated with books. Early photos show me with a book in hand, even if it was not exactly my reading level... My first word was a made-up word meaning 'book', actually. I suppose I had my priorities at an early age... Over the years my interest in books has become one of the defining features of who I am as a person. You can probably call me a bookworm. While I have other interests, reading will always be the one I talk about the most, even if I am not focusing on it as much as I used to.