The first short story in the collection has a private investigator trying to find out who pushed Humpty Dumpty off the wall. Apparently, it wasn’t an accident, it was murder. The cliches and one-liners fly like bullets in this opener. This story has a strong “Jasper Fforde” feel to it and is a comical start to the collection.
The second story reads like a fairy tale. A young boy is accosted by a Troll under a bridge. A troll who is going to “eat his life”. He keeps escaping the troll by promising him he will return later in his life, where he will have acquired more “life” for the troll to eat.
The collection takes a dark turn with the third story. A story about an evil Jack in the Box. It is only four pages long, but a killer ending will send chills down your spine.
Next up is a story about an inter-galactic club of con artists. This story is one of the longest and pays homage to the old stories of con artists selling tourists the London Bridge and other similar cons.
Another longer story follows. All the months of the year are seated around a table and it seems that each must tell a tale to the other months. A tale, that has not been told before, and one that must be entertaining. The current month of the year has the chair and the story to tell. A wonderful idea conjured from Gaiman’s imagination.
The remaining stories are bound in magical realism. From a group of gourmands who fear they have eaten everything there is to be eaten on the planet, that is until they find out about the mystical Sunbird. To a story about a child who can talk to ghosts, and simply wants to provide the ghost of a woman who was drowned and burned as a witch, a headstone to mark where she is buried. This one just happens to be my favourite.
Sorry for the short descriptions but these are short stories and to give too much about them away can ruin them instantly.
Some of the stories are a little mediocre, but Gaiman’s wonderful writing style lifts them above the line, turning them into most enjoyable reads. I feel an inferior author would not have been able to accomplish this, and I find Gaiman to be, along with authors such as Stephen King, a natural teller of stories. For me he could almost write about anything and it would be enjoyable.
So, if you are looking for a quick read from a diverse range of short stories, brilliantly written and most enjoyable to read, then this may be the collection for you. 3.5 Stars.
Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described "feral child who was raised in libraries," Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: "I wouldn't be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans."
There is a link to the Michigan Quarterly Review here with Neil Gaiman. He is not talking about M is for Magic but trust me his interviews are a treat to read - https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/mqr/2018/07/other-worlds-inches-away-an-interview-with-neil-gaiman/