Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 3, 2015
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction--stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013--as well "Black Dog," a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In "Adventure Story"--a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane--Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience "A Calendar of Tales" are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year--stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother's Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale "The Case of Death and Honey". And "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we're all alone in the darkness.
When I saw this on the Recent Releases shelf at my library, I figured I could not go wrong with a collection of Neil Gaiman short stories. My attention span has been so limited lately that some short fiction sounded perfect, and my two forays into Gaiman's work thus far have been positive.
Unfortunately, this one fell into the so-so category for me. I KNOW. I'm just as surprised as you are.
Even so, there were a lot of great things about this collection, because it IS Neil Gaiman. All of his stories are subtly unsettling, a writing tactic that I came to love in Neverwhere. He skips the obvious, sometimes gory, horror of a Stephen King novel, and instead leaves you with a vague chill in your bones at the end of each tale. That certainly did not disappoint.
And some of the individual stories were pretty great, all on their own. "The Thing About Cassandra," "A Calendar of Tales," and "A Lunar Labyrinth" were my favorites, all excellent stand-alone stories that left me with much to ponder afterwards. I also loved Gaiman's introduction to the collection--he explains his thought process behind each story (helpful for me as a reader), and also makes some really spot-on points about whether or not books should include "trigger warnings" to warn readers of possibly-sensitive material.
That said, there were two main reasons why I felt lukewarm on this book. First (and Gaiman does acknowledge this in the introduction), the genre of the stories jumps around way too much for my liking. There's horror, sci-fi, fairy tale retellings, a Doctor Who-based story...some prose, some poetry...they are all so vastly different. This is the first short story collection I've read that jumps around so much in genre, and it made for a very choppy reading experience for me. Though the tone was fairly similar between stories, I would have liked a little more continuity in the genres as well.
The second issue I had is that so many of the stories require previous knowledge of other stories. As I mentioned, there is a Doctor Who story (which I actually liked more than I thought I would, though I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I'd ever seen the show), a Sherlock Holmes tale, two stories that are based on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, respectively (I had to brush up on my fairy tales to understand them), and a story related to American Gods, a Gaiman novel that I've not read yet (so I don't think I fully appreciated the story). Again, this made for a very choppy reading experience as I was constantly Googling information about these other sources in order to understand the story at hand.
Overall, if you're a Gaiman fan to begin with, and have good background on the original tales he spins off from, then this book is likely a win for you. But otherwise, I think Trigger Warning has the potential to be a rougher read than what you may expect from short fiction.
Have any other Neil Gaiman fans read this one yet? What did you think?
And can anyone tell me what the draw is to Doctor Who? Because seriously, fans of that show are HARDCORE. This was my first experience with a TARDIS.