Wednesday 24 October 2007

Smoke and Mirrors - Neil Gaiman

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is the fourth book of my RIP II challenge for this year.

So far the only books I've read by Neil Gaiman are Stardust and Good Omens, penned with Terry Pratchett of course. I liked both of those and I liked this anthology as well but I'm still not certain if I would like his other books such as Anansi Boys, American Gods and Neverwhere. Just not certain that they would be my sort of thing. My husband recently read Neverwhere and didn't rate it... mind, we don't always agree on books so that doesn't mean a lot. *g*

Anyway - Smoke and Mirrors. A good antholgy. I didn't like all of the stories but then when do you ever? I think, like a lot of people, I would say the best story is 'Chivalry', a story I read for one of the Short Story Sundays and reviewed a few weeks back. But there is plenty more to enjoy. I liked 'The Price' very much indeed - a story of a cat taken in as a stray but who is getting into terrible fights during the night. Its owner keeps him in for four nights to recover and finds the family have terrible luck during those four days and nights... 'Troll Bridge' was also very good. It tells what happens when a boy goes for a very long walk along an abandoned railway track and eventually comes to a bridge. He makes a bargain there that he will revisit many times during his life. Atmospheric and intriguing that one. 'One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock' I liked a lot too. Unless I'm mistaken this isn't really a sci fi story at all but I liked it all the same. It's just a story about a boy's school days and his love of Michael Moorcock's 'Elric' fantasy stories. It was delightful and slightly autobiographical I gather. Other stories of note, Looking For the Girl, When We Went to see the End of the World By Dawnie (charmingly written as a child would write), We Can Get Them For You Wholesale and Snow, Glass, Apples (for those who think they know the story of Snow White and The Seven Dwarves;-)). In fact, there were only a few in the whole book that I didn't care for.

This book has reminded me of how much I like short story anthologies. I used to read them a *lot* but hardly any these days, and that's a shame so will try to put that right. The only word of warning I would add is that I know there are folks out there who don't care for a lot of sexual content and a couple of the stories are quite explicit, or are of the sort where the author calls a 'spade a spade' if you get my drift. But if that's okay with you then you should enjoy this anthology.

As I've now read four books for Peril the First, I suppose I've officially finished the RIP II challenge. I've done a couple of Short Story Sundays (hope to do another next Sunday) but probably won't have time now to read the extra book, which in my case was The Mystery of the Sea by Bram Stoker. I still plan to read it though and probably the rest of the pool as they're all books I want to read. I'm currently reading The New Lovecraft Circle edited by Robert M. Price and am enjoying that a lot. Hoping to review a couple of the stories for Short Story Sunday if I have the time.


Lightheaded said...

I really like this book. I'm rereading this for RIP II Challenge. Or at least Snow Glass Apples because I seem to be in a vampire funk lately. What's creepier than the actual story is the audio version of such. Really creepy.

As for other Gaimans, I really love American Gods. I've reread that at least thrice already and I still enjoy the journey to Shadow's world each time. The other books are good as well. I guess it's obvious I'm partial to Gaiman.

Ana S. said...

You mentioned most of my favourite stores from this collection. You're right that "One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock" isn't really fantasy or sci-fi, but I love how personal it feels.

As for the rest of his work, I'd say give at least "Neverwhere" a try. It's more accessible than "American Gods", and also shorter, so if you don't like it you won't have wasted much time :P Of course, he is my favourite author so I'm obviously biased, but... try it, you might like it.

Cath said...

Lightheaded: I love vampire books too. Have you read Sunshine by Robin McKinley? That's one of my favourites.

I'll put Neil Gaiman on my 'to read' list for 2008. The library have a lot of his books so it won't cost anything to try one or two of the ones I haven't read.

Nymeth: I shall definitely try Neverwhere as I don't like to think I might be missing some fabulous books. I've heard that Coraline is good too, have you read that?

Eloise said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge. This is another RIP review that makes me think I really should read Neil Gaiman, it sounds very interesting.

chrisa511 said...

I loved this collection, glad to hear you enjoyed it overall too :) You've mentioned some of my favorites.

My favorite books of Gaiman's are American Gods and Neverwhere. In my opinion, they are the best examples of him at the top of his game. I've really enjoyed everything he's written, but those two (especially American Gods) are really special. I agree with everyone else, give him one more chance ;) Of course, like Lightheaded and Nymeth, I'm very biased as he's one of my favorite authors!

Congrats by the way on finishing the challenge!

Cath said...

Eloise: I'm not really the best person to ask about Gaiman's books but people seem to like his writing and what I've read of his I've enjoyed. 'Nothing ventured...' as they say. :-)

Chris: I shall certainly read more of his books. I've certainly liked what I've read so far, I just have the feeling that I haven't really tried his main writing yet and was in two minds as whether it would be for me. There's only one way to find out, eh?

Stephanie said...

I just finished Fragile Things for the RIP Challenge. I really love Gaiman. This one is next on my list!!

Cath said...

Stephanie: Funny but I'm doing the reverse to you and hoping to get Fragile Things to read soon. From your review it sounds really good.