books

Neil Gaiman

Books

Good Omens (1990), Smoke and Mirrors (1998), Stardust (1999), American Gods (2001), Anansi Boys (2005)

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes (1991), The Doll's House (1991), Dream Country (1991), Season Of Mists (1992), A Game Of You (1993), Fables And Reflections (1993), Brief Lives (1994), World's End (1994), The Kindly Ones (1996), The Wake (1997), The Dream Hunters (1999), Sandman: Endless Nights (2003)

Graphic Novels: Stardust (1997), Marvel 1602 (2006)

Kids Books: Coraline (2002), Wolves in the Walls (2003) with Dave McKean, The Graveyard Book (2008)

Anthologies: Snow White, Blood Red (1993), The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventh Annual Collection (1994), Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995), The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: Eighth Annual Collection (1995), The Sandman Book of Dreams (1996), A Magic-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (1998), A Wolf at the Door (2000), The Green Man (2002), Swan Sister (2003), Year's Best Fantasy 3 (2003), Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Edition (2003), Legends II (2004), The Faery Reel (2004), The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection (2004), Outsiders (2005), By Blood We Live (2009), The Secret History of Fantasy (2010), The Way of the Wizard (2010), Happily Ever After (2011), Teeth (2011), Under My Hat (2012), Weird Detectives (2013), Street Magicks (2016)

Short Stories: The Monarch of the Glen (2004)

 

 

Good Omens (1990) with Terry Pratchett

Good Omens is one of my all time favorite books, and one that I'd take with me to be stranded on a desert island, because it's funny.

Really funny.

With lots of passages that make me giggle, and even laugh out loud, not just when I read them, but even when I go back and think about them later. Like:

...courting couples had come to listen to the splish and gurgle of the river in the Sussex sunset. He'd done that with Maud, his missus, before they were married. They'd come here to spoon, and on one memorable occasion, fork.

Even the footnotes are funny.

(24) So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life...
25 And the Lord spake unto the Angel that guarded the eastern gate, saying Where is the flaming sword which was given unto thee?
26 And the Angel said, I had it here only a moment ago, I must have put it down some where, forget my own head next.
27 And the Lord did not ask him again.

But in addition to being funny, the book is just plain good. The characters are great, the story is great, the only weakness I can think of is that the whole thing has to end.

As far as the story: it's England, it's the Apocalypse, and the Antichrist is coming into his powers, except that, being eleven and having been misplaced as a baby, he doesn't really know about his powers. The only people who really know what's going on are an angel and a demon who've been on Earth so long they've gone native, and a young woman, Anathema Device, who is guided by her family heirloom, "The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter."

Although I like Anathema, I have to say that my favorite characters are Aziraphale and especially Crowley. There's something about a demon with verdant, thriving houseplants. (And I wonder whether his method really works. If so, I might consider using it.)

The thing about Good Omens is that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman together manage to be even funnier than they are alone, which is pretty impressive, since I find both of them quite amusing.

If you haven't read this book, you should. It's really that good.

Oh, for Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett fans who have not yet read this book, Terry Pratchett's DEATH and not Neil Gaiman's Death, is one of the Hell's Angels of the Apocalypse.

"Woss the matter with you?" asked Big Ted, irritably. "Go on. Press 'D.' Elvis Presley died in 1976."

I DON'T CARE WHAT IT SAYS, said the tall biker in the helmet, I NEVER LAID A FINGER ON HIM.

Rating: 10/10

 

Stardust (1999)

StardustStardust reads much like a folktale, but not a folktale that I recognized, and certainly not a cleaned up Disney tale. As with everything else of his I have read, I would highly recommend Stardust.

I also recommend the version illustrated by Charles Vess.

Smoke and Mirrors (2001)

SmokeI started this book awhile ago, and at the time, the story I started reading was too dark for me, so I put it away for awhile. I picked it up again because I was desperately looking for books with short stories--books that I can put down with more ease that I can other books, and on the second read, I wasn't able to figure out what I had read the first time that was so dark. It seems that it took on proportions beyond itself while I was away from it.

That said there are a lot of very dark stories in this book, and even some of the stories I really liked had very dark overtones. Not sure whether my tastes of changed, or whether I am just becoming more immune to darker fiction that is as much horror as it is fantasy, or whether I'd just built it up to be bigger than it was. Immaterial to this book of course, but you'll have that.

Murder Mysteries is two stories in one. I love the story within a story, but the wrap around story is really quite creepy. It reminds me a bit of Stephen Brust's To Reign in Hell, except that the character of God is much more sympathetic in this story.

Shoggoth's Old Peculiar is very good, with the creepy far underneath, but still there. I supposed that knowing more about H.P. Lovecraft would have made the story better, but since I don't like scary things, just knowing the basics worked for me.

Only the End of the World Again made me think about Werewolves in a way that I hadn't before, but probably should have. After all, if one takes on the shape of a beast, mightn't they also take on the nature of one? And how do you deal with it when you awaken?

American Gods (2001)

American GodsNeil Gaiman integrates mythology with urban fantasy, and as always has fantastic characters. The story drew me in immediately, and I managed to read the entire book in two evenings (not that unusual for me, but still these were week nights!) I was fascinated by the idea that the various and assorted American Gods would interact with each other.

The Old Gods--the Norse, the Irish, the African--are clinging to the edges of life, surviving and finding worship however they can. Shadow, just released from prison, is hired by Mr. Wednesday to meddle in the affairs of these Gods.

I liked the idea that once a God is no longer worshiped he or she does not really die, but instead can become simply do their own thing--what they need to do to survive. There is something comforting about the thought that all the old Gods who were brought to this land by their worshipers may still be here, even if the worshippers are long gone. Of course thinking about it, I think that this topic was briefly covered in Piers Anthony's "Incarnation of Immortality" series, but not like this. I also was reminded in parts of Guy Gavriel Kay's "Fionovar Tapestry" series, which also dealt with a good deal of mythology and folklore.

What should I believe? thought Shadow, and the voice came back to him from somewhere deep beneath the world, in a bass rumble: Believe everything.

Rating: 9/10

Published by HarperCollins

American Gods: Tenth Anniversary Edition (2001/2011)

I needed some comfort reading to distract me, so since I’d picked up the 10th anniversary edition of American Gods for the kindle awhile ago, it won the comfort reading lottery.

I’ve read American Gods many times before, but not this version with the expanded material. Only a couple times do I think I noticed the added material.

Since this was a kindle book, it was easy to mark things I wanted to remember for later. Here are some of them:

“Hey,” said Shadow. “Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are.”

The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.

“Say ‘Nevermore,’” said Shadow.

“Fuck you,” said the raven.

“You’re fucked up, mister. But you’re cool.”

“I believe that’s what they call the human condition,” said Shadow.

Shadow’s telephone rang.

“Yeah?” he said.

“That’s no way to answer the phone,” growled Wednesday.

“When I get my telephone connected I’ll answer it politely,” said Shadow.

(I)t’s just the dark. You mustn’t be afraid of the dark.”

“I’m not,” said Shadow, “I’m afraid of the people in the dark.”

I actually marked many more passages, but those are some of the shorter passages. Of course, I wonder weather anyone who has not (at this point) read “American Gods” would do so based on those notes. But I don’t care, because I like those passages.
Rating: 10/10

Re-Read: July 2016

This is a re-read, because I couldn’t figure out what I was in the mood to read, and as good as this story is, I knew it would suck me in almost immediately.

Shadow is getting ready to leave prison. Ready to return to his old life. But his old life is gone, and he is instead pulled into the lives of Gods, old and new, trying to live in a country that treats gods harshly.

Shadow had played checkers in prison: it passed the time. He had played chess, too, but he was not temperamentally suited to chess. He did not like planning ahead. He preferred picking the perfect move for the moment.

(T)hey were at the bottom of a ramp now, with an ice-cream shop in front of them. It was nominally open, but the girl washing down the surfaces had a closed look on her face.

Shadow stared, impressed in spite of himself, at the hundreds of full-sized creatures who circled on the platform of the carousel. Real creatures, imaginary creatures, and transformations of the two: each creature was different—he saw mermaid and merman, centaur and unicorn, elephants (one huge, one tiny), bulldog, frog and phoenix, zebra, tiger, manticore and basilisk, swans pulling a carriage, a white ox, a fox, twin walruses, even a sea serpent, all of them brightly colored and more than real.

“You’re the television? Or someone in the television?”

“The TV’s the altar. I’m what people are sacrificing to.”

“What do they sacrifice?” asked Shadow.

“Their time, mostly.”

There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe that they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do.

A lovely escape.
Rating: 10/10

Published by William Morrow

Coraline (2002)

CoralineCoraline is a very good book, and being a young adult (whatever that means) book, it only took me a couple of hours to read. It's a little dark, but that's still a lot less dark than watching the news (something that kids don't do, although they probably should, except for the fact that it's all so depressing).

I particularly liked the way he worked out how she had to take care of things herself. She did the right thing of asking adults for help--it just happened not to work out, and for reasonable reason. (okay, perhaps not how it would have happened in reality, but it wasn't unreasonable.) I think that is important, because if a book is supposed to be based somewhat in our reality, the bits that happen in our reality should conform to the way things work. If it's an alternate reality, or a reality that exists beyond the reality we currently perceive, that's okay, but people in the "normal" reality should act like people on a "normal" reality.

And the point of all that rambling was the fact that Neil Gaiman's characters do that in Coraline. Otherwise, there are bits that are just gruesome enough that even though the book is about a female character, I think that smaller people of the male persuasion would like the book anyway. And of course for us adults, it's immaterial whether the lead character is a boy or a girl, what is important is that it's a good story, and as usual, that's what Neil Gaiman gives.

Wolves in the Walls (2003) with Dave McKean

I've been perusing the children's bookshelves recently, looking for gifts for our nephew Wilson, and discovered that an adult buying children's books doesn't get the strange looks I expected, so I have no problems purchasing Wolves in the Walls for myself, although I didn't tell this person at the register the book was for me. Let them think what they will.

Wolves in the Walls is collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. Neil Gaiman is, of course, one of my favorite writers, so that made this an easy choice. Dave McKean has worked with Neil Gaiman on various other projects, including the covers of the 'Sandman' collections.

The book tells the tale of Lucy, who tries to tell her family that there are wolves in the walls of their house, but no one believes her. The writing reminds me less of other books that Neil Gaiman has written, and more like the bits of prose that occasionally appear in his journal and delight me to no end.

"Anyway, you know what they say about wolves," said her father. "If the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over."

"Who says that?" asked Lucy.

"People. Everybody. You know," said her father, and he went back to practicing his tuba."

That brief exchange me reminds me both of everything that was so frustrating about talking to people. People frequently give children the quick and easy answer, assuming that they won't understand a more complicated answer, or have patience for a more complicated answer, and so children are frequently given an easy mean-nothing answer.

But if you think about it, the same holds true for adults. If you have ever questioned a practice at the office, you'll sometimes learn that why things are done the way they are, is simply because "that is the way they have always been done," and no one knows why. So perhaps we give children the easy answer, in the hopes that as adults they will accept the easy answer instead of asking the hard questions of "Why?"

The artwork is, like much of what I have seen of Dave McKean's work, dark, although this is much lighter than his 'Sandman' covers. It is a mixture of photographs and drawings, melded together. What is interesting is that the art used to depict Lucy and her family and her pig puppet is the more realistic photographic type depiction, while the wolves are drawn almost exclusively as black and white sketches, with minimal color and realism.

As far as a recommendation, I liked it, and whether being a child at heart makes that a good recommendation for an actual child, you'll have to decide for yourself.

Anansi Boys (2005)

ANansi BoysAll summer I went back and forth over whether I was going to get Neil Gaiman’s new book Anansi Boys in hardback, or wait until it came out in paperback. On one hand, I greatly prefer paperback books–they’re smaller and lighter. On the other hand, I really didn’t want to wait another year to read a new Neil Gaiman book.

Needless to say, I broke down and bought the book. And apparently lots of other felt the same way, as Anansi Boys hit the New York Times best seller list at #1. (Yay Neil Gaiman!)

Those who read American Gods will remember Aunt Nancy, or Anansi. Anansi Boys is about Anansi's sons, Fat Charlie and Spider. Fat Charlie lives in England and has always been mortified by his father, who has embarrassed Charlie in as many was possible, including sticking him with the nickname "Fat Charlie." Just as the children of hippies grow up to be accountants, the son of trickster Anansi grew up refusing to be amused.

Anansi Boys is shorter than I had expected--American Gods was a huge book, and for some reason I was expecting the same here. But that was fine--I like long books, but I like it a little better when an author can tell a story in a shorter format.

The tone was much lighter than American Gods, sort of if it had been crossed with Good Omens It was also more amused with itself--fitting for a book about Anansi I think.

As with American Gods I found it interesting that the characters described in great detail, and again I quite liked it. Knowing Aunt Nancy, I knew that Fat Charlie and Spider were black, but Neil Gaiman wastes little discussing the race of the characters in this book, and I quite like it, because in this type of fantasy it doesn't and shouldn't--matter what race someone is. At least that's my feeling. Neil Gaiman tells us that Fat Charlie isn't actually fat--just a little soft around the middle, and that Spider is lean and hard in comparison. Do we need much more information than that?

The style of the story is different from his previous books. It's not written like a fairy tale like Stardust, but it's much lighter in tone than American Gods. For me, the tone in each book is different, yet I can always catch glimpses of his voice that tells me this is a Neil Gaiman book.

And as always his storytelling is excellent. I'm not going to say that no one else spins a tale like Neil Gaiman, because that wouldn't be true. However, there are not a lot of authors who write that well, and it is always wonderful when one of them writes another book.

I also really liked the cover. Important bits are there, although you don't know it until you've read the book, so it doesn't give anything before you read the story. And I loved the chapter titles.

I really liked Anansi Boys. I like everything that Neil Gaiman has written. My only wish is that I not have to wait four more years for another novel.
Rating: 8/10

Published by HarperCollins

Re-Read: June 2013

Couldn’t decide upon a new-to-me book to read, so I went to my fall back position: a reread of a favorite.

This is a follow-up of sorts to American Gods. It’s a follow-up only because it’s set in the same world, and contains Aunt Nancy/Anansi.

But the story isn’t about Anansi. It about his son Fat Charlie.

If you think your parents are embarrassing, imagine having Anansi as a father. Anansi the trickster, the trouble-maker.

(H)e took a handful of mixed nuts from the bowl on the table and began to toss them into his mouth, chomping down on them as if each nut was a twenty-year-old indignity that could never be erased.

I have much sympathy for Fat Charlie, because this is EXACTLY how I feel:

If something that even looked like it might be embarrassing was about to happen on his television screen Fat Charlie would leap up and turn it off. If that was not possible, say if other people were present, he could leave the room on some pretext ad wait until the moment of embarrassment was sure to be over.

I have done that. I hate movies and shows where the humor comes from embarrassment. Hate them. So how could I not be empathetic to Fat Charlie?

In his dreams, Fat Charlie was himself, only clumsier.

Yeah, that too. Which makes Fat Charlie’s brother, Spider, even harder to take:

His brother looked like Fat Charlie wished he looked in his mind.

Of course, there are characters besides Charlie and Spider. There is Fat Charlie’s boss, Grahame Coats.

It wasn’t that people liked Grahame Cats, or that they trusted him. Even the people he represented thought he was a weasel. But they believed that he was their weasel, and in that they were wrong.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up someone I have to deal with in a regular basis.

But don’t worry, things get better for Fat Charlie. It’s just they have to get really really worse before they get better.

This was just the escape I was looking for, and it was just as good as I remembered.
Rating: 8.5/10 

The Graveyard Book (2008)

Nobody Owens lives in a graveyard.

I’ve known this for quite awhile. You see, I read Neil Gaiman’s blog, and he’d been talking about The Graveyard Book long before he every got around to writing it. So I knew there would one day be a book about a boy who grew up in a graveyard and was raised by ghosts.

I even knew the story came about because his son used to play in a graveyard next to their home when he (the son) was a toddler. So why didn’t I order the book when it first came out? No idea. Then I knew it was up for the Newbury award, and then I knew it had won, and that Stephen Colbert had mocked it, and then Neil Gaiman had gone on the Colbert Report and allowed Stephen Colbert to mock him in person about his book. And still I didn’t order the book.

Finally, I broke down and ordered The Graveyard Book. The almost immediately I read it.

Now I will admit one thing. For some reason I thought The Graveyard Book was more like Wolves in the Walls instead of Coraline. Not that I expected it to be anything like those books particularly. I mean the age groups–I thought it was for a younger age group.

Yes. I’d seen the cover. But don’t forget, I love and own The Boy Who Drew Cats and The Spider and the Fly (and have given both as gifts to young friends.) So I have a very different idea of “age appropriate” than most other people. (I clearly remember being a child, and loved reading the story of “The Boy Who Drew Cats” because the image of the cats fangs dripping with blood was awesome. And really, a lot of the best books for kids are quite morbid. Which is why they’re so good.)

Yes, the book starts with a killer with a knife. Yes, there are scary bits. Bit they’re awesome scary bits–just what should appeal to kids. After all, the best children’s books always have orphans as the main characters–how else could a kid have exciting and terrible adventures? If you have a young person in your life, don’t hesitate to get them The Graveyard Book. It’s just the right kind of book to appeal to kids with gruesome and scary and a boy who is brave even when it would be better for him not to be brave.
Rating: 9/10

 

Anthologies

 

Snow White, Blood Red (1993) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I often have a hard time putting down interesting books. Which means that if I’m reading a book I real like before bed, I end up staying up past my bed time instead of falling asleep. One solution is to read non-fiction before bed. The other solution is to read short story anthologies. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of high quality anthologies out there. At least, not enough to keep up with the rate at which I can read.

So I decided to go back and reread Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's fantasy anthology Snow White, Blood Red. This book has a whole bunch of things going for it at once: it's edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling; it's got stories by Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint; and the stories are retellings or reinventions of folk and fairy tales. Mostly fairy tales in this book.

Plus, a gorgeous cover by Thomas Canty.

For those who are unfamiliar with folk tales and fairy tales, many of the original tales--before they got cleaned up and given to kids--were filled with sex, (in addition to the casual violence of people getting eyes poked out or chopping off bits of feet or being shoved into ovens.)

In other words, these are not stories for children.

...

Also, the stories I liked less tended towards horror. This book is a collection of fantasy and horror (as are many Ellen Datlow-Terri Windling anthologies) so I expected that there were going to be at least one or two stories that I don't care for. So it didn't really bother me.

As best I can tell, this anthology is still available, so if you like short stories, this is an anthology you won't want to miss. However, if you like anthologies, this is probably one you already have sitting on your shelves.
Rating: 7/10

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventh Annual Collection (1994) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

The Poacher by Ursula K. Le Guin
England Underway by Terry Bisson
The Woman in the Painting by Lisa Goldstein
The Daemon Street Ghost-Trap by Terry Dowling
Memo for Freud by Daína Chaviano; trans. by Heather Rosario-Sievert
The Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Jaw by Nancy A. Collins
Breath by Adam Corbin Fusco
Knives by Jane Yolen
Mrs. Jones by Carol Emshwiller
Snow Man by John Coyne
One Night, or Scheherazade's Bare Minimum by Thomas M. Disch
Dead Man's Shoes by Charles de Lint
The Lodger by Fred Chappell
The Erl-King by Elizabeth Hand
The Chrysanthemum Spirit by Osamu Dazai; trans. by Ralph F. McCarthy
Angel by Mary Ellis
The Taking of Mr. Bill by Graham Masterton
The Saint by Gabriel García Márquez; trans. by Edith Grossman
Cottage by Bruce McAllister
Doodles by Steve Rasnic Tem
Dying in Bangkok by Dan Simmons
Prisoners of the Royal Weather by Bruce Boston
The Snow Queen by Patricia A. McKillip
Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman
The Storyteller by Rafik Schami
Rice and Milk by Rosario Ferr‚
Ridi Bobo by Robert Devereaux
Playing with Fire by Ellen Kushner
Later by Michael Marshall Smith
Distances by Sherman Alexie
Crash Cart by Nancy Holder
Some Strange Desire by Ian McDonald
The Dog Park by Dennis Etchison
Wooden Druthers by E. R. Stewart
Inscription by Jane Yolen
In Camera by Robert Westall
The Wealth of Kingdoms (An Inflationary Tale) by Daniel Hood
The Crucian Pit by Nicholas Royle
The Ecology of Reptiles by John Coyne
The Last Crossing by Thomas Tessier
Small Adjustments by Caila Rossi
Precious by Roberta Lannes
Susan by Harlan Ellison
Freud at Thirty Paces by Sara Paretsky
If Angels Ate Apples by Geoffrey A. Landis
Exogamy by John Crowley
The Princess Who Kicked Butt by Will Shetterly
The Apprentice by Miriam Grace Monfredo
Alvyta (A Lithuanian Fairy Tale) by O. V. de L. Milosz; trans. by Edouard Roditi
The Pig Man by Augustine Bruins Funnell
Tattoo by A. R. Morlan
Lady of the Skulls by Patricia A. McKillip
To Scale by Nancy Kress
Roar at the Heart of the World by Danith McPherson

Published by St Martins Press

Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (1995) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Ruby Slippers - Susan Wade
The Beast - Tanith Lee
Masterpiece - Garry Kilworth
Summer Wind - Nancy Kress
This Century of Sleep, or Briar Rose Beneath the Sea - Farida S. T. Shapiro
The Crossing - Joyce Carol Oates
Roach in Loafers - Roberta Lannes
Naked Little Men - Michael Cadnum
Brother Bear - Lisa Goldstein
The Emperor Who had Never Seen a Dragon - John Brunner
Billy Fearless - Nancy A Collins
The Death of Koshchei the Deathless - Gene Wolfe
The Real Princess - Susan Palwick
The Huntsman's Story - Milbre Burch
After Push Comes to Shove - Milbre Burch
Hansel and Grettel - Gahan Wilson
Match Girl - Anne Bishop
Waking the Prince - Kathe Koja
The Fox Wife - Ellen Steiber
The White Road - Neil Gaiman
The Traveler and the Tale - Jane Yolen
The Printer's Daughter - Delia Sherman

Published by Harper Collins

The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: Eighth Annual Collection (1995) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Transmutations by Patricia A. McKillip
Bottom's Dream by Rachel Wetzsteon
La Promesa by Leroy Quintana
Aweary of the Sun by Gregory Feeley
A Wheel in the Desert, the Moon on Some Swings by Jonathan Carroll
Who Will Love the River God? by Emily Newland
Brothers by Joyce Carol Oates
Subsoil by Nicholson Baker
Elvis's Bathroom by Pagan Kennedy
Yet Another Poisoned Apple for the Fairy Princess by A. R. Morlan
The Big Game by Nicholas Royle
Buenaventura and the Fifteen Sisters by Margarita Engle
De Natura Unicorni by Jane Yolen
Blue Motel by Ian McDonald
A Friend Indeed by David Garnett
Sometimes, in the Rain by Charles L. Grant
Rain Falls by Michael Marshall Smith
That Old School Tie by Jack Womack
Animals Behind Bars! by Scott Bradfield
Monuments to the Dead by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Unterseeboot Doktor by Ray Bradbury
Young Woman in a Garden by Delia Sherman
The Man in the Black Suit by Stephen King
'In the Tradition...' by Michael Swanwick
Words Like Pale Stones by Nancy Kress
Märchen by Jane Yolen
Giants in the Earth by Dale Bailey
A Conflagration Artist by Bradley Denton
Report by Carme Riera
The Village of the Mermaids by John Bradley
—And the Horses Hiss at Midnight by A. R. Morlan
The Entreaty of the Wiideema by Barry Lopez
White Chapel by Douglas Clegg
The Stone Woman by Linda Weasel Head
Coyote Stories by Charles de Lint
The Box by Jack Ketchum
A Fear of Dead Things by Andrew Klavan
He Unwraps Himself by Darrell Schweitzer
Chandira by Brian Mooney
Fever by Harlan Ellison
The Best Things in Life by Lenora Champagne
Mending Souls by Judith Tarr
The Ocean and All Its Devices by William Browning Spencer
Strings by Kelley Eskridge
Superman's Diary by B. Brandon Barker
Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Spring by M. John Harrison
The Sisterhood of Night by Steven Millhauser
Winter Bodies by Noy Holland
The Sloan Men by David Nickle
Is That Them? by Kevin Roice
The Kingdom of Cats and Birds by Geoffrey A. Landis
Angel Combs by Steve Rasnic Tem
Snow, Glass, Apples. by Neil Gaiman

Published by St Martins Press

The Sandman Book of Dreams (1996) edited by Neil Gaiman and Ed Kramer

Masquerade and High Water by Colin Greenland
Chain Home, Low by John M. Ford
Stronger Than Desire by Lisa Goldstein
Each Damp Thing by Barbara Hambly
The Birth Day by B.W. Clough
Splatter by Will Shetterly
Seven Nights in Slumberland by George Alec Effinger
Escape Artist by Caitlin R. Kiernan
An Extra Smidgeon of Eternity by Robert Rodi
The Writer's Child by Tad Williams
Endless Sestina by Lawrence Schimel
The Gate of Gold by Mark Kreighbaum
A Bone Dry Place by Karen Haber
The Witch's Heart by Delia Sherman
The Mender of Broken Dreams by Nancy A. Collins
Ain't You 'Most Done? by Gene Wolfe
Valóság and Élet by Steven Brust
Stopp't-Clock Yard by Susanna Clarke
Afterword: Death by Tori Amos

It took me several months to read this book, not because it was boring, but because I was carrying it back and forth to work to read at lunch, or if I had to go somewhere for an appointment. This means that as I finished the last story in the book, I could barely remember the first story in the book.

I liked B.W. Clough’s The Birth Day, a story of the beginning of an idea. I also liked Robert Rodi’s An Extra Smidgen of Eternity, which is the second of two stories about Wanda from A Game of You. I liked A Bone Dry Place by Karen Haber, because it had several of the Endless interacting, although the story that tied everything together confused me, even on a second read. One of my favorite stories was Nancy A. Collin’s The Mender of Broken Dreams. I quite liked the idea of the creatures of the realm of dream wondering about themselves. I of course loved Steven Brust’s Valosag and Elet, but then I tend to love everything that Steven Brust writes, so you’ll have to consider the source. One of the stories merits is that it is written as a folktale, and since I love folktales, that made it all the more endearing.

The horror tales were my least favorite. Will Shetterly’s Splatter was set during The Doll’s House collection in the Collectors, one of the more gruesome tales. The Writer’s Child by Tad Williams is disturbing, although everything is alright in the end. But I don’t particularly care for horror, so you’d best not take my opinion if you like it yourself. The stories were well written, but they were not anything that I particularly enjoy so take that as you will.

There was so much more that I wanted to say about these stories, but it’s been over a month since I finished the collection, so I best say this for now, lest I forget everything.

These were stories written in the world of the Sandman, but they were not written by Neil Gaiman. If you liked Sandman and like short stories, then you’ll like this collection. But if you are looking for more of Neil Gaiman’s writing, or know little or nothing of The Sandman, then this collection is probably not for you.

Published by Harper Torch

A Magic-Lover's Treasury of the Fantastic (1998) edited by Margaret Weis

Gwydion And The Dragon - C.J. Cherryh
Misericorde - Karl Edward Wagner
The Barbarian - Poul Anderson
The Silk And The Song - Charles L. Fontenay
Mirror, Mirror On The Lam - Tanya Huff
Chivalry - Neil Gaiman
Firebearer - Lois Tilton
The Bully And The Beast - Orson Scott Card
A Time For Heroes - Richard Parks
The Cup And The Cauldron - Mercedes Lackey
The Lands Beyond The World - Michael Moorcock

Published by Aspect


A Wolf at the Door (2000) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I love folk tales and fairy tales, and I love the idea of stories that have been told and retold, and then finally captured on paper. The problem of course, is finding an author who is good at translating stories from an oral tradition into something that works well written.

There's something wonderful about a well-told short story, and I think that the best short stories in the world are folk and fairy tales.

Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling are very good at finding authors who can take these stories and retell them, and they always put together wonderful anthologies. They brought together thirteen writers for this collection of retold fairy tales.

Although one or two of the stories I found to be just okay, others were nothing short of excellent. It also seems as if the stories were I liked the best were towards the end of the book. For me the collection started out okay, and then got better and better the more I read.

...

Although I don't have much of a ear for poetry, I enjoyed Neil Gaiman's poem Instructions, which was a compilation of the secrets from different stories. A Wolf at the Door, the story from which the title of the anthology was taken, was very good--especially the twist.

...

Not that I think the purpose of these stories is necessarily to scare us, as much as it is to make us pay attention to what is happening around us.
Rating: 7/10

The Green Man : Tales from the Mythic Forest (2002) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Going Wodwo (poem) - Neil Gaiman
Grand Central Park - Delia Sherman
Daphne - Michael Cadnum
Somewhere in My Mind There is a Painting Box - Charles de Lint
Among the Leaves So Green - Tanith Lee
Song of the Cailleach Bheur (poem) - Jane Yolen
Hunter's Moon - Patricia A. McKillip
Charlie's Away - Midori Snyder
A World Painted by Birds - Katherine Vaz
Grounded - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Overlooking - Carol Emshwiller
Fie, Fi, Fo, Fum - Gregory Maguire
Joshua Tree - Emma Bull
Ali anugne o chash (the boy who was) - Carolyn Dunn
Remnants - Kathe Koja
The Pagodas of Ciboure - M. Shayne Bell
The Green Man (poem) - Bill Lewis
The Green Word - Jeffrey Ford

Published by Viking

Swan Sister (2003) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

I don’t think I’ve come across a short story collection put together by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling that I didn’t like, and Swan Sister is no exception to the rule.

The stories are fairy tales retold, by a variety of authors--many some of my favorites.

Greenkid - Jane Yolen
Golden Fur - Midori Snyder
Chambers of the Hear - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Little Red and the Big Bad - Will Shetterly
The Fish's Story - Pat York
The Children of Tilford Fortune - Christopher Rowe
The Girl in the Attic - Lois Metzger
The Harm that Sang - Gregory Frost
A Life in Minature - Bruce Coville
Lupe - Kathe Koja
Awake - Tanith Lee
Inventing Aladdin - Neil Gaiman
My Swan SIster - Katherine Vaz

...

All in all, there wasn't a weak story in this collection.

Like A Wolf at the Door, this is a collection for children and young adults. However, the stories are so well written that adults should find them just as appealing. If you like folk and fairy tales, I highly recommend this collection.
Rating: 9/10

Year's Best Fantasy 3 (2003)

“Her Father’s Eyes” by Kage Baker
“Want’s Master” by Patricia Bowne
“October in the Chair” by Neil Gaiman
“Greaves, This Is Serious” by William Mingin
“Shift” by Nolo Hopkinson
“A Book, by Its Cover” by P.D. Cacek
“Somewhere in My Mind There Is a Painting Box” by Charles de Lint
“The Pyramid of Amirah” by James Patrick Kelly
“Our Friend Electricity” by Ron Wolfe
“Social Dreaming of the Frin” by Ursula K. LeGuin
“Five British Dinosaurs” by Michael Swanwick
“The Green Word” by Jeffery Ford
“The Comedian” by Stephan Chapman
“The Pagodas of Ciboure” by M. Shayne Bell
“From the Cradle” by Gene Wolfe
“Sam” by Donald Barr
“Persian Eyes” by Tanith Lee
“Travel Agency” by Ellen Klages
“A Fable of Savior and Reptile” by Steven Popkes
“Comrade Grandmother” by Naomi Kritzer
“Familiar” by China Mieville
“Honeydark” by Liz Williams
“A Prayer for Captain La Hire” by Patrice E. Sarath
“Origin of the Species” by James Van Pelt
“Tread Softly” by Brian Stableford
“How It Ended” by Darrell Schweitzer
“Cecil Rhodes in Hell” by Michael Swanwick
“Hide and Seek” by Nicholas Royle
“Death in Love” by R. Garcia y Robertson

Published by Harper Voyager

Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixteenth Edition (2003) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Kelly Link - Lull
Kim Newman - Egyptian Avenue
Corey Marks - A Letter of Explanation
China Miéville - Details
Eric Schaller - The Assistant to Dr. Jacob
M. Shayne Bell - The Pagodas of Ciboure
Graham Joyce - The Coventry Boy
Helga M. Novak - The Wild Hunt
Jeffrey Ford - The Green Word
Terry Dowling - Stitch
Michael Libling - Puce Boy
Zoran Zivkovic - The Violin-Maker
Bentley Little - Maya's Mother
Carlton Mellick, III - Porno in August
Brian Hodge - Nesting Instincts
Conrad Williams - The Machine
Thomas M. Disch - Hansel, A Retrospective, or, The Danger of Childhood Obesity
Melissa Hardy - Aquerò
Joel Lane - The Receivers
Nicholas Royle - Standard Gauge
Jeffrey Ford - Creation
Tracina Jackson-Adams - Seven Pairs of Iron Shoes
Karen Joy Fowler - What I Didn't See
Jackie Bartley - Reading Myth to Kindergartners
Peter Dickinson - Mermaid Song
Neil Gaiman - Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky
Ramsey Campbell - No End of Fun
Adam Roberts - Swiftly
Christopher Fowler - The Green Man
Brian Hodge - Some Other Me
Robert Phillips - The Snow Queen
Jay Russell - Hides
Luis Alberto Urrea - Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush
Margaret Lloyd - Five Poems
Stephen Gallagher - Little Dead Girl Singing
Robin McKinley - The Pool in the Desert
Haruki Murakami - Thailand
Theodora Goss - The Rose in Twelve Petals
Kathe Koja - Road Trip
Lucy Taylor - Unspeakable
Elizabeth Hand - Inside Out: On Henry Darger
Kevin Brockmeier - The Green Children
Sharon McCartney - After the Chuck Jones Tribute on Teletoon
Neil Gaiman - Feeders and Eaters
Susan Power - Roofwalker
Don Tumasonis - The Prospect Cards
Nicholas Royle - Hide and Seek
Nan Fry - The Wolf's Story
Elizabeth Hand - The Least Trumps

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

Grails: Quests of the Dawn (2004) edited by Richard Gilliam and Martin H. Greenberg

The Question Of The Grail by Jane Yolen
The Cup And The Cauldron by Mercedes Lackey
The Which Overfloweth by Andre Norton
Chalice Of Tears, Or I Didn't Want That Damm Grail Anyway by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Feast And The Fisher King by Diana L. Paxon
The Gift Of Gilthaliad by Brad Strickland
Curse Of The Romany by Ilona Ouspenskaya
Dagda by James S. Dorr
The Sailor Who Sailed After The Sun by Gene Wolfe
Water by Lee Hoffman
What You See... by Alan Dean Foster
Storyville, Tennessee by Richard Gilliam
Somewhere In Her Dying Heart by Lisa Lepovetsky
Hell-Bent For Leather by Jeremiah E. Phipps
Atlantis by Orson Scott Card
Invisible Bars by Dean Wesley Smith
That Way Lies Camelot by Janny Wurts
Hitchiking Across An Ancient Sea by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Visions by Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Awful Truth In Arthur's Barrow by Lionel Fenn
Reunion by Brian M. Thomsen
Quest Now by Margo Skinner
Chivalry by Neil Gaiman
Falling To The Edge Of The End Of The World by Bruce D. Arthurs
Greggie's Cup by Rick Wilber
The Grail Legend: An Afterword by Fritz Leiber

Legends II (2004) edited by Robert Silverberg

I picked up this book just for the Neil Gaiman Shadow story, so the fact that I found it in the bargain bin means that any stories beyond ‘The Monarch of the Glen’ were an added bonus.

Homecoming - Robin Hobb
The Sworn Sword - George R. R. Martin
The Yazoo Queen - Orson Scott Card
Lord John and the Succubus - Diana Gabaldon
The Book of Changes - Robert Silverberg
The Happiest Dead Boy in the World - Tad Williams
Beyond Between - Anne McCaffrey
The Messenger - Raymond E. Feist
Threshold - Elizabeth Haydon
Indomitable - Terry Brooks
The Monarch of the Glen - Neil Gaiman

And 'Monarch of the Glen' was good. Very good. It made me want to go back and reread 'American Gods' Right Now. Which I have not done, but may very well do. Because I really like Shadow, and I liked reading more about him, as well as learning more about his past. I'm not sure what it is about Neil Gaiman's writing that I love so much, but it's there, and I read his on-line journal for the moments when his day to day bits turn into one of his small tales that draw me in.

Besides 'Monarch of the Glen' there were three other stories I read: 'Homecoming' by Robin Hobb, 'The Messenger' by Raymond E. Feist, and 'Threshold' by Elizabeth Haydon. All three stories had the same effect on the that 'Monarch of the Glen' did. I wanted to go back and reread that authors' other books. The Riftwar Saga, the Farseer Trilogy, and the Rhapsody Trilogy.

Robin Hobb's 'Homecoming' was especially good--the main character started out particularly unlikable, yet she managed to keep me reading despite that. It also gave backstory for an area of her world I knew little about.

Of the other stories in the book, there were three stories that I have no interest in reading (the stories by Card, McCaffrey, and Brooks) and stories that are from books that we have, but I have not yet read: George RR Martin, Tad Williams, and Robert Silverberg. Michael has read two of the three series, and loved them, so I should read them, but just haven't gotten around to them yet.

I'll let you know when I do.

The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (2004) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

When I see a fantasy anthology edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, I'll almost always pick it up, because I know it's going to be good. Very good. This volume however, has the added bonus of poems by both Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman.

Needless to say I snatched it up--even thought it was in hardback--when I came across it.

These faery tales are based not upon the fairies of Disney but upon the faery of folktales. As they say in the introduction:

In this book about our good neighbors, we've asked a number of our favorite writers to travel into the Twilight Realm (an ancient name for the land of Faerie) and to bring back stories of faeries and the hapless mortals who cross their path. "No butterfly-winged sprites," we pleaded. "Read the old folktales, journey farther afield, find some of the less explored paths through the Realm.

It would be hard for me not to love this book.

The Boys of Goose Hill - Charles de Lint
Catnyp - Delia Sherman
Elvenbrood - Tanith Lee
Your Garnet Eyes - Katherine Vaz
Tengu Mountain - Gregory Frost
THe Faery Handbag - Kelly Link
The Price of Glamour - Steve Berman
The Night Market - Holly Black
Never Never - Bruce Glassco
SCreaming for Aferies - Ellen Steiber
Immersed in Matter - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Undine - Patricia A. McKillip
The Oakthing - Gregory Maguire
Foxwife - Hiromi Goto
The Dream Eaters - A. W. Dellamonico
The Faery Reel - Neil Gaiman
The Shooter at the Heartrock Waterhole - Bill Congreve
The Annals of Eelin-OK - Jeffrey Ford
De La Tierra - Emma Bull
How to Find Faery - Nan Fry

...

All in all an excellent anthology. But I hardly expected anything less.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Viking

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection (2004) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Kij Johnson  - At the Mouth of the River of Bees
Sara Maitland  - Why I Became a Plumber
M. Rickert  - Bread and Bombs
George Saunders  - The Red Bow
Vandana Singh  - The Wife
Lucius Shepard  - Only Partly Here
Steve Rasnic Tem  - Bone
Laird Barron  - Old Virginia
Neil Gaiman  - A Study in Emerald
Nathan Ballingrud  - You Go Where It Takes You
Dean Francis Alfar  - L'Aquilone du Estrellas (The Kite of Stars)
Stephen King  - Harvey's Dream
Ursula K. Le Guin  - Woeful Tales from Mahigul
Karen Joy Fowler  - King Rat
Kelly Link  - The Hortlak
Brian Hodge  - With Acknowledgments to Sun Tzu
Richard Butner  - Ash City Stomp
Michael Swanwick  - King Dragon
Patrick O'Leary  - Invisible Geese: A Theory
Patrick O'Leary  - The Perfect City
Peter Crowther  - Bedfordshire
Adam Corbin Fusco  - N007-JK1
Marc Laidlaw  - Cell Call
Philip Raines and Harvey Wells  - The Fishie
Dale Bailey  - Hunger: A Confession
Scott Emerson Bull  - Mr. Sly Stops for a Cup of Joe
Megan Whalen Turner  - The Baby in the Night Deposit Box
Paul LaFarge  - Lamentation over the Destruction of Ur
Mike O'Driscoll  - The Silence of the Falling Stars
Jon Woodward  - At the Mythical Beast
Paolo Bacigalupi  - The Fluted Girl
Kevin Brockmeier  - The Brief History of the Dead
Nina Kiriki Hoffman  - Flotsam
Dan Chaon  - The Bees
Glen Hirshberg  - Dancing Men
Theodora Goss  - Lily, with Clouds
Karen Traviss  - The Man Who Did Nothing
Shelley Jackson  - Husband
Michael Marshall Smith  - Open Doors
Benjamin Rosenbaum  - The Valley of the Giants
Thomas Ligotti  - Purity
Maureen F. McHugh  - Ancestor Money
Terry Bisson  - Almost Home
Daphne Gottlieb  - Final Girl II: The Frame

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

Outsiders: 22 All-New Stories From the Edge (2005) edited by Nancy Holder & Nancy Kilpatrick

The Empty Chambers - Neil Gaiman
The Company You Keep - Steve Rasnic Tem
Under the Needle - Léa Silhol
Scarabesque: The Girl Who Broke Dracula - Tanith Lee
Expanding Your Capabilities Using Frame/Shift(tm) Mode - David J. Schow
Cat and the Cold Prince - Freda Warrington
Faces in Revolving Souls - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Lighten Up - Jack Ketchum
Pit Boy - Elizabeth Massie
The Country of the Blind - Melanie Tem
Ruby Tuesday - Kathe Koja
Running Beneath the Skin - Brett Alexander Savory
Grim Peeper - Katherine Ramsland
Craving - Yvonne Navarro
Violent Angel - Thomas S. Roche
...And the Damage Done - Michael Marano
Pop Star in the Ugly Bar - Bentley Little
Miss Singularity - John Shirley
The Working Slob's Prayer - Poppy Z. Brite
If I Should Wake Before I Die - Brian Hodge
Honing Sebastian - Elizabeth Engstrom
The Shadows, Kith and Kin - Joe R. Lansdale

By Blood We Live (2009) edited by John Joseph Adams

Snow, Glass, Apples - Neil Gaiman
The Master of Rampling Gate - Anne Rice
Under St. Peter’s - Harry Turtledove
Child of an Ancient City - Tad Williams
Lifeblood - Michael A. Burstein
Endless Night - Barbara Roden
Infestation - Garth Nix
Life is the Teacher - Carrie Vaughn
The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick
The Beautiful, The Damned - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pinecones - David Wellington
Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu - Norman Partridge
Foxtrot at High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko
This is Now - Michael Marshall Smith
Blood Gothic - Nancy Holder
Mama Gone - Jane Yolen
Abraham’s Boys - Joe Hill
Nunc Dimittis - Tanith Lee
Hunger - Gabriela Lee
Ode to Edvard Munch - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Finders Keepers - L.A. Banks
After the Stone Age - Brian Stableford
Much at Stake - Kevin J. Anderson
House of the Rising Sun - Elizabeth Bear
A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow
Twilight - Kelley Armstrong
In Darkness, Angels - Eric Van Lustbader
Sunrise on Running Water - Barbara Hambly
Hit - Bruce McAllister
Undead Again - Ken MacLeod
Peking Man - Robert J. Sawyer
Necros - Brian Lumley
Exsanguinations - Catherynne M. Valente
Lucy in Her Splendor - Charles Coleman Finlay
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky - John Langan
One for the Road - Stephen King

The Secret History of Fantasy (2010) edited by Peter S. Beagle

This is an interesting collection of short stories, by some very good authors. I can’t say all the stories were to my taste, but they were all very good.

...

Francesca Lia Block’s story “Bones” was yet another unsettling story. Bluebeard and something else entirely. And it was followed by the even more unsettling “Snow, Glass, Apples” which is one Neil Gaiman story I have never liked–it freaks me out too much.

...

All in all, an excellent collection of stories, albeit one I don’t recommend reading when you’re depressed.
Rating: 8/10


The Way of the Wizard (2010) edited by John Joseph Adams

way_of_the_wizardI love anthologies. They give me an escape in bite size pieces that won’t keep me up past my bed time on a work night, and they also often a wonderful introduction to authors I have not read previously.

This anthology focuses upon wizards of all sorts, doing wizardly things, though not very many evil wizards.

...

“How to Sell the Ponti Bridge” by Neil Gaiman. I don’t know why I’m so fond of story about rogues. I don’t like them very much in real life (at least I don’t like the ones I’ve met) but they’re so fun to read about.

...

There were multiple stories I didn’t care for, but on the whole, I found it a good and enjoyable collection. After all, I don’t have to read the stories I don’t like.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Prime Books  

Teeth: Vampire Tales (2011) edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

This is an Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling anthology, so as always, there are fascinating bits of folklore.

Rice, not garlic, was the most effective means of keeping Chinese vampires at bay, for they had a strange compulsion to count. Throwing rice at the ghost compelled it to stop; it would not move again until each grain was counted.

...

“Bloody Sunrise” by Neil Gaiman is a poem, and I’m a heathen and just don’t get poetry. (Apologies to all my friends who are poets.)

...

As expected, this was a very good anthology, and although I didn’t like the horror or the poetry, that’s a failing of mine, not the anthology.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Harper Collins  

Happily Ever After (2011) edited by John Klima

Happily Ever AfterNot sure how I missed this when I first came out, but this anthology is full of things I love: authors whose books I love, stories based on folk and fairy tales–lovely!

The only thing I didn’t like, is I wish the anthology hadn’t ended on such a dark and depressing story.

Mind you, the dark and depressing stories were good–very good–but these tales ran very true to the original stories, with a not insignificant amount of rape and incest and general horribleness. Just like the original tales.

But there’s also a good amount of humor as well, and I just wished the collection had ended with one of the funnier stories.

The Seven Stage a Comeback – Gregory Maguire
And In Their Glad Rags – Genevieve Valentine
The Sawing Boys – Howard Waldrop
Bear It Away – Michael Cadnum
Mr. Simonelli or the Fairy Widower – Susanna Clarke
The Black Fairy’s Curse – Karen Joy Fowler
My Life As A Bird – Charles de Lint
The Night Market – Holly Black
The Rose in Twelve Petals – Theodora Goss
The Red Path – Jim C. Hines
Blood and Water – Alethea Kontis
Hansel’s Eyes – Garth Nix
He Died That Day, In Thirty Years – Wil McCarthy
Snow In Summer – Jane Yolen
The Rose Garden – Michelle West
The Little Magic Shop – Bruce Sterling
Black Feather – K. Tempest Bradford
Fifi’s Tail – Alan Rodgers
The Faery Handbag – Kelly Link
Ashputtle – Peter Straub
The Emperor’s New (And Improved) Clothes – Leslie What
Pinocchio’s Diary – Robert J. Howe
Little Red – Wendy Wheeler
The Troll Bridge – Neil Gaiman
The Price – Patricia Briggs
Ailoura – Paul Di Filippo
The Farmer’s Cat – Jeff VanderMeer
The Root of The Matter – Gregory Frost
Like a Red, Red Rose – Susan Wade
Chasing America – Josh Rountree
Stalking Beans – Nancy Kress
Big Hair – Esther Friesner
The Return of the Dark Children – Robert Coover

The introduction was written by Bill Willingham, whose writing I adore, and whose introduction amused me. Here’s the very start of it:

I have to confess I’m no good at writing a proper introduction, because, I’m in the storytelling business, which means I get to lie for a living, and I’ve become well practiced at it. But introductions are supposed to be true. After so many years, I despair if I have much unvarnished truth in me.

...

Please note, as previously mentioned, the stories have rape and incest and lots and lots of sex in addition to evil stepmothers and other such killers.

There were also a fair number of very dark and very depressing tales that were very good, but that I didn’t enjoy at all.
Rating:8/10

Published by Night Shade Books

Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron (2012) edited by Jonathan Strahan

This is a lovely YA anthology, with some amazing stories by some of my favorite authors. I didn’t love all the stories, but none of them were bad. The theme is young witches coming of age, but the stories are far greater than that.

...

I’m sorry. As much as I love Neil Gaiman, that doesn’t help me enjoy poetry. “Witch Work” was wasted on me.

...

The final story is Margo Lanagan’s story, “Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow.” A grandmother goes halfway around the world for the birth of her first grandchild. But when she arrives, things are not what she was expecting. This was not a bad story, but it wasn’t anywhere close to my favorite.
Rating: 9/10

Published by Random House

Weird Detectives: Recent Investigations (2013) edited by Paula Guran

weird-detectives-recent-investigationsThis is a collection of short stories previously published elsewhere, so I’d already read several of these stories. But there were several I had not, and several of the ones I’d read before were well worth reading again.

This book has been sitting around for awhile, waiting to be read, primarily because I got it in trade paperback, and it’s huge and heavy–just the kind of book I hate reading. Too heavy and too bulky for comfortable reading. But the stories drew me in and didn’t let me go. (Though the book itself was why I lacked patience for stories I’d recently read or didn’t catch my interest immediately.)

“The Key” by Ilsa J. Blick
“The Nightside, Needless to Say” by Simon R. Green
“The Adakian Eagle” by Bradley Denton
“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher
“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman
“Cryptic Coloration” by Elizabeth Bear
“The Necromancer’s Apprentice” by Lillian Stewart Carl
“The Case of the Stalking Shadow” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod
“Defining Shadows” by Carrie Vaughn
“Mortal Bait” by Richard Bowes
“Star of David” by Patricia Briggs
“Imposters” by Sarah Monette
“Deal Breaker” by Justin Gustainis
“Swing Shift” by Dana Cameron
“The Beast of Glamis” by William Meikle
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter
“Like a Part of the Family” by Jonathan Maberry
“Fox Tails” by Richard Parks
“Death by Dahlia” by Charlaine Harris
“Sherlock Holmes and the Diving Bell” by Simon Clark
“See Me” by Tanya Huff
“The Maltese Unicorn” by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Initially, I was just going to flip through and read stories by authors I love, but then I ended up just reading straight through. Having no patience, if I story didn’t immediately grab hold, I didn’t finish it, and if I hadn’t thoroughly enjoyed it the first time (or had read the story very recently), I didn’t give it a second read.

...

“The Case of Death and Honey” by Neil Gaiman is the kind of story I generally dislike–a Sherlock Holmes story. But, it was Neil Gaiman, so I read it. I’m not going to change my mind about modern writers taking the reigns of Holmes and Watson, but this one wasn’t too bad.

...

As I said, this contained a lot of stories I’d read previously, but they are for the most part good stories, so if you don’t have the original anthologies, this would be well worth getting.
Rating: 8/10

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran

Street MagicksI believe it took me less than a year to finish this anthology. Hopefully this is a new trend for me.

“Freewheeling” by Charles de Lint
“A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” by Scott Lynch
“Caligo Lane” by Ellen Klages
“Socks” by Delia Sherman
“Painted Birds and Shivered Bones” by Kat Howard
“The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories” by Neil Gaiman
“One-Eyed Jack and the Suicide King” by Elizabeth Bear
“Street Worm” by Nisi Shawl
“A Water Matter” by Jay Lake
“Last Call” by Jim Butcher
“Bridle” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
“The Last Triangle” by Jeffrey Ford
“Working for the God of the Love of Money” by Kaaron Warren
“Hello, Moto” by Nnedi Okorafor
“The Spirit of the Thing: A Nightside Story” by Simon R. Green
“A Night in Electric Squidland” by Sarah Monette
“Speechless in Seattle” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Palimpsest” by Catherynne M. Valente
“Ash” by John Shirley
“In Our Block” by R. A. Lafferty

...

“The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories” by Neil Gaiman is… well… it’s a Neil Gaiman story.

...

An interesting collection, although there were a lot of stories that were not for me.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Prime Books

 

Short Stories

 

The Monarch of the Glen (2004)

the -monarch-of-the-glenThe Monarch of the Glen appeared first in Legends II (2004) edited by Robert Silverberg, and then in Gaiman’s own short story collection Fragile Things.

It is the story of Shadow, as he is wandering the world following the events in American Gods.

Shadow (and we learn his true name in this story) is wandering Scotland, when he is approached and asked to help provide security for an event happening in a local castle.

And that’s about as much of a description as I can really give, because like everything Neil Gaiman writes, it’s deep and wandering and full of myth and monsters.

It’s also very good.

If you have not read American Gods you could read this as a peek into Gaiman’s writing. But you’re more likely to be wanting to read this if you have already read American Gods and want a peek at what happened to Shadow.

And really, if you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, chances are you sought out this story years ago.
Rating: 8/10 
 

 

Neil Gaiman's website