Book Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Published: February 3rd 2015 by William Morrow & Company
Format: Paper Book
Length: 354 pages
Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Poetry
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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.
A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.
I’m not ashamed to admit that Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. Pretty much everything I read from him is gold and so incredibly wonderful. So it pains me to say that I really didn’t like Trigger Warning. I’ve read other short story collections from Gaiman before and loved them, M is for Magic was probably the first thing I ever read from him, but Trigger Warning just wasn’t up to snuff in my opinion.
Short stories take a special talent to write because you have to create a complete tale in a smaller than usual time frame. I know that Gaiman is the master of the unusual and nonsensical but most of the stories in Trigger Warning fell flat for me because they were just too confusing or felt unfinished. ‘The Lunar Labyrinth’ was the worst offender in this regard. There are several pieces of fanfiction that felt especially out of place here. I’m almost certain that I’ve read the Sherlock Holmes piece somewhere before and, unless you’re an actual fan, the Dr. Who story was not particularly interesting and completely out of place with the rest of the tales. There is even a short story of one of Gaiman’s own novels and while ‘Black Dog’ is the type of eerie and dark story I was expecting out of this collection, I feel it would have been better served without the American Gods character. Also, I had to Google ‘Thin White Duke’ to discover Gaiman was talking about David Bowie. There is a big generational gap on that reference.
My favorite stories from the collection were probably ‘Orange’ for its unique format, ‘Click-Clack the Rattlebag’ for being a proper little creepy horror story, and ‘Black Dog’ for its supernatural angle, even if small details from the story escaped me because I haven’t actually read American Gods. Some of the stories were creepy but I wasn’t really enthused with most of them. Trigger Warning came across as simply ‘meh’ for me and didn’t really spark the way so many of Neil Gaiman’s other books have done. It pains me to have to give less than a stellar review for one of Gaiman’s books but this one just didn’t resonate for me and the stories don’t live up to the book’s title.
P.S. There is a story called The Sleeper and the Spindle included in the collection that is, at least I think, part but not all of Gaiman’s Snow White and Sleeping Beauty mashup. I still plan to order the illustrated book soon. So, I’ll edit this if it turns out Trigger Warnings actually has the complete short story. (Although, I hope not. The Sleeper and the Spindle that shows up in Trigger Warning kind of trails off into nothing and leaved so much potential untapped.)