By: Neil Gaiman
In this anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to showcase the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. He explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them forcing us to confront who we are when absolutely alone. His stories reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghost stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fables and poetry that explore the human realm of experience and emotion.
Of the twenty-four short stories, about twelve of them really spoke to me. You may ask then why this collection is being given four-stars. A great question. My rating stems from a belief that it is the quality not quantity of the stories that have the greatest impact. Each of the longest tales from Trigger Warning are my favorites. Some of the short poem entries may not have spoken to me, but they can hardly compete when they were five pages or less and the longer stories were around thirty to fifty pages. In truth there were one or two entries I actively disliked, but I hardly care about the rating of those. Perhaps I just didn’t “get them.” I’m not much for poetry on general principle, and Gaiman goes so far as to joke about people’s aversion to poetry stating it very well may be one of the things that triggers you as a reader. Not even the stories themesleves.
Of my favorites tales, I found some deeply moving and others absolutely horrifying. My favorite entry, which will come as no surprise to my regular readers, was “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.” While obviously written as a homage to one of my favorite authors, it also reminded me of a play I saw in London about a father fighting a losing battle with dementia. I wept after that play and felt much the same while reading this story. Few things in this world are more terrifying than the knowledge you are forgetting things except maybe being the person who must watch you forget.
In the similar vein, “A Calendar of Tales” vaguely remined me of Bradbury’s short story, “October in the Chair” and was inspired by a social media gimmick in which Gaiman chose one twitter quote per month from his fans during the course of a year. Each selected tweet was the seed of a twelve story series crafted in the gloriously unique and fresh way that Gaiman knows best. It’s clear that Gaiman looked to Bradbury as a mentor and friend when Bradbury was alive. They became friends in the way authors do after meeting at panels and book signings. Hate to admit that I’m jealous, but of course I am. What a remarkable experience that must have been, but I can say that Gaiman doesn’t let it go to waste.
I was also incredibly happy to see an entry about Shadow from American Gods. Gaiman likes to sneak these original entries into short story collections, and I’m hoping there will be another when I get to his collection Smoke and Mirrors. This new Shadow story is titled “Black Dog,” and centers on the manifestation of guilt and depression. Of course, in a very tasteful but creepy way.
For those fans of Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Who, there are stories for you too!
The below are all the titles of the stories that spoke the most to me. There were others that I liked, but I thought these were the best.
- Making a Chair
- The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains
- Adventure Story
- A Calander of Tales
- The Case of Death and Honey
- The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
- And Weep, Like Alexander
- Nothing O’Clock
- Femanine Endings
- The Sleeper and the Spindle
- In Relig Odhraín
- Black Dog
Overall rating: 4