Reviews > Published on February 2nd, 2015

Bookshots: 'Trigger Warning' by Neil Gaiman

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Who Wrote It?

Neil Gaiman, author of beautifully haunting books, and holder of the key to my creative heart. (Translation: I love him. So much. I say this in the interest of full disclosure. I may not be an entirely unbiased reviewer today.)

Plot in a Box:

Nothing less than captivating. A collection of diverse, witty, freaky stories, many of which will noodle around in my brain for months to come.

This is a collection of short stories and poetry, so the plots are far-flung. Diverse. Almost manically different. There's a foreboding hedge-maze in the British countryside, stalked by a legendary killer. There's a tale of an imaginary girlfriend who comes to life. There's a story about a couple who leaves their hearts (and minds) in Jerusalem, and another about what really happened to Sherlock Holmes post-retirement. And that barely scratches the surface of the chaos that lurks within the covers of this book. 

Invent a new title for this book:

Hodge-Podge Mish-Mash Fun Times Reading by the Fire

Read this if you like:

If you enjoy short stories, you'll enjoy this book. 

If you enjoy genre fiction, you'll enjoy this book.

If you enjoy reading just about anything, you'll enjoy this book.

Gaiman's a master at his craft. It's hard not to love the worlds he creates.

Meet the book's lead(s):

This being a collection of shorts, there are as many leads as there are plots. There's a young man who wants only to help his girlfriend's younger brother to bed. There's an aging reader, devastated by the fact that he can no longer remember his favorite author's name. There's a little girl with the best name ever (Jemima Glorfindel Petula Ramsey), responding to a police survey after her sister's other-worldly kidnapping. The characters in this collection are like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates — upon starting each new story, you never know what you're going to get.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Lots of different actors. Lots of different faces. Too many to list here.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

There are so many settings — far-flung sea coasts, the hills of rural China, worlds in far-off times and spaces. I'd love to visit them all, as long as I can always come home for dinner. 

What was your favorite sentence?

In November I received a ransom note telling me exactly what to do if I ever wished to see my uncle Theobald alive again. I do not have an Uncle Theobald, but I wore a pink carnation in my buttonhole and ate nothing but salads for the entire month anyway.

The Verdict:

Gaiman's a master. I can no more critique his writing than I could Stephen King's or Margaret Atwood's. And this review will be entirely too long, but you're just going to have to forgive me.

Because this? This Trigger Warning? Well, it's nothing less than captivating. A collection of diverse, witty, freaky stories, many of which will noodle around in my brain for months to come. I know they will, because they're already there, already bugging me. Already nudging me, asking over and over again:

"What if?"

"How about?"

"Why not?"

From "A Calendar of Tales," a laugh-out-loud group of twelve weirdly unrelated mini-stories, to "The Case of Death and Honey," whose disjointed beginning I briefly hated, but whose ending made me cry, there's no end to Gaiman's imagination. You want aliens? You've got them. Monsters? Sure. Of course. Poignant moments in which you fall in love with a character, only to see him dissolve at the end of someone else's flight of fancy?Absolutely.

My favorite story, by far, was the haunting, aching tale of "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury." It was a love note to one of the best authors ever, and was sad and sweet and painful, so painful. For who doesn't fear, more than almost anything else, the loss of their memories? Of their life? That's a concept that keeps me up at night, and in his honorarium of Ray Bradbury, Gaiman brings this fear to life.

And if that's not enough to get thee to the bookstore, then know this: for each story in the collection, each poem, there's a blurb in the introduction about where the story came from. Because you know how, in interviews, people always ask authors, "Where do you get your ideas?" and the answer is always some vague, "From the ether" type thing? But we, the readers, really want to know, for realsies this time, where the story came from? Gaiman gives us the answers, providing a sneak peek into a brain that must be as beautiful, haunting, and terrifying as the stories to which it gives birth.

So. Gaiman, yeah? Go forth, dear readers. Go forth and read Trigger Warning. I think you'll love it.

About the author

Leah Rhyne is a Jersey girl who's lived in the South so long she's lost her accent...but never her attitude. After spending most of her childhood watching movies like Star Wars, Aliens, and A Nightmare On Elm Street, and reading books like Stephen King's The Shining or It, Leah now writes horror and science-fiction. She lives with her husband, daughter, and a small menagerie of pets.

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