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Neil Gaiman – Smoke & MirrorsSmoke and Mirrors is not a novel, but a collection of 36 short stories, including some very early work of Neil Gaiman.
These stories, as one would expect of a collection spanning a longer time frame, cover a number of different styles and approaches, and a variety of quality of writing, too. A good number of them are giving the impression that Neil is slipping into different skins, trying different styles – frequently ones belonging to other author's (as he freely admits); I guess that's what short stories are good for; or, at least, can be good for.

The thread running across the book is Horror, in all its guises, applications, and approaches. Then there's Sex, the one thing nearly everyone has some kind of obsession with, although Neil has his own hang-ups, as befits an individual. Not all of this works, neither the horror nor the sex, not for me at least.

The stories also vary greatly in how well they're written, and how much they can capture the imagination of the reader. Both the opener (a story about a couple being given their own, self writing, alternative life story as a wedding present) and the final one (an unsettling re-telling of Snow White, from the perspective the 'witch' – it's very non-Disney, but most likely much closer to the original Grimm spirit) worked well for me.

A lot of the in-between was stimulating and entertaining, including the 2 Lovecraft pastiches; whilst other efforts simply passed me by without capturing my attention or imagination.
But the stories are short, less than 15 pages average, and there's always another one round the corner, so this didn't matter too much.

There is a short paragraph for each story, providing some background to it, explaining when, why, how, for whom it was written. Surprisingly these were collected at the beginning of the book, which led to a lot of flipping back & forth, but that's a minor quibble.

One for aficionados of short story collections, for fans and completists, of course, and for lovers of mixed horror collections. Not an ideal starting point for Gaiman, though...

Title: Smoke & Mirrors
Author: Neil Gaiman
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Headline Feature
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 1999
Review Date: 090730
ISBN: 074726368X
Price: UKP6.99
Pages: 431
Format: Paperback
Topic: Horror
Topic: Fantasy

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