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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  50,773 Ratings  ·  2,024 Reviews
In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman's imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under "Pest Control," and where a ...more
Paperback, 340 pages
Published July 1st 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published November 1998)
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Dec 30, 2008 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Smoke and Mirrors' is the first of two short story collections written by Neil Gaiman. This title was first published in 1998, while 'Fragile Things' came out in 2006. Having read 'Fragile Things' mere months ago I was doing quite a bit of comparison between the two as I worked my way through 'Smoke and Mirrors'. While there are a lot of similarities between the two, there are also many differences.

Both collections involve Gaiman doing what he does best, that is taking our own myths, fables, an
Althea Ann
May 03, 2016 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially read in 1999 or thereabouts. Not reviewed at the time.

Upon re-reading:

***** “The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories” by Neil Gaiman
I'm usually not that interested in the whole 'glamour of Hollywood' theme, but this is probably the best commentary on it I've ever read.
Clearly partially autobiographical, this tells the story of a British writer who's flown out to L.A. to talk about converting his bestselling novel into a movie. A shifting cast of film execs gradually morph his story past r
Jan 01, 2012 Jc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short works, some not quite complete, is maybe a must read for real Gaiman fans who read everything he does (4 stars for them), but not really for anyone else (only 1 star for the general audience). And I say that as one of those fans. I really like what Gaiman does, both in traditional and graphic novel form, but Smoke and Mirrors is not representative of his best work. Basically, it is a collection of things he never bothered to give a final polish to. Much of S&M is thi ...more
Jun 22, 2015 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaiman fans
Bearing in mind I read this on my kindle, so some stories weren't included in the version I read. Also this is hella long.

All ratings (including notes). * indicates favourite
The Wedding Present (Yes, I religiously read introductions):4*
In which a picturesque couple are given a quaint wedding present that seems to be a 'retelling' of their coupling; it spins a story of how their marriage could have went wrong. Though this premise may seem outlandish and bizarre, it's terribly relevant and poses
Wayne Barrett
...Drops of water fell like diamonds from the Angel Lucifer's perfect fingers... From the short story, 'Murder Mysteries'
About half way through this volume of short's I was thinking this would probably be a 4 star, maybe a 3.5 actual. Now that I am at the end, having examined the work as a whole, and considering the power of the last 2 stories, I had to rate this a 5.
I love the way Neil mixed it up. The collection seemed to be a potpourri of short stories, prose, poetry and lyrical verse. I cou
Jun 19, 2013 Petergiaquinta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A guilty pleasure, sure, but with Ray Bradbury's death, I'd suggest that Neil Gaiman is the best storyteller we have today.

Consider the words of Harry Bailly (he of the Tabard Inn, not George's brother): "And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle / That is to seyn that telleth in this caas / Tales of best sentence and moost solaas / Shal have a soper at oure aller cost." And I'd buy Gaiman a meal or three for this sundry collection of tales pulled together from over the years and published i
Jun 18, 2007 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vampires
A note: I expect more than I should from this author. I find him to be a brilliant idea man with little substance.

-Suggested Reading Order:

Murder Mystery
Snow, Glass, Apples
Only the End of the World Again
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
We Can Get Them for You Wholesale
Cold Colors
The Price

Chivalry- an old woman buys the Holy Grail. A full-armored knight comes to seek the Grail. Cute, long-run and dry. The most wonderful thing about this story is that it is quaint and written as gabbish; a
Dec 22, 2008 Latharia rated it it was amazing
Wow. I have to say that just about every story in this collection was highly engaging, and I had strong emotional reactions to several of them, and many "gotcha" type moments. Gaiman is, indeed, a master storyteller. Some of my favorite bits, without giving too much away for those of you who need to add this to your "to read" stack:

- the sad workings of Peter's mind in "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale"
- the explanation of those who've spurned "The Sweeper of Dreams"
- the evolution of perceive
Andrea ❤Ninja Bunneh❤
I hate saying this, but I'm only giving this one 3 stars.

 photo tumblr_lthhby06z51qb1lhh_zpsdfda4409.gif

I love Gaiman's writing, I truly do. Somehow I felt a lot of the stories in this anthology were a bit disjointed. Some were boring, to be quite honest. As if they were just something thrown together from a discarded pile. A few of the stories were enjoyable so I'm just going to say I had a neutral time reading this.

That being said, I am not giving up on Gaiman just yet. I know he's an author has the potential to make my weirdly wired br
Dec 10, 2015 Tally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories are like ice cream cones: they can be perfectly savored in one sitting. These ones in particular were deliciously entertaining.

I have always loved Neil Gaiman's style (he is my favorite author, after all), and this collection is no different. It's an eclectic mix of oddities, wonders, spine-tinglers, and fairy tales turned upside down. Highly recommended, especially if you're in the mood for something short and sweet.
Edward Lorn
SMOKE AND MIRRORS Review, or My Final Review For a While I'm a Neil Gaiman fanboy. I've loved all of his novels and a great deal of his short fiction, but this collection was marred with either lackluster outings or poems I couldn't enjoy because I personally don't understand what makes them poems. The latter is my own fault, and I do not hold it against the author. The former, on the other hand, is all Gaiman's fault. Many of these stories lack purpose, are nothing more than words compiled into ...more
Serena.. Sery-ously?
Hey, hi! Neil Gaiman speaking! I can write the best damn introductions ever.. Bye losers! Just kidding, I can write whatever the hell I want: name it, already done!

I found some old friends (such as "Chivalry" or "Troll bridge".. Long time no see!) and discovered some new (I'm talking about you, "We can get them for you wholesale" and you, "Snow, glass, apples".. Hi! Nice meeting you!).

Some stories are creepy as hell (there is a certain atmosphere, I don't even know how to explain!), while others
Jul 06, 2012 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Stories are, in on way or another, mirrors. We use them to explain ourselves how the world works or how it doesn't work.Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in the darkness. Fantasy-and all fiction is fantasy of one kind or another-is a mirror. A distorting mirror, to be sure, and a concealing mirror, set at 45 degrees to reality, but it's a mirror nonetheless, which we can use to tell ourselves things we might not otherwise see."

As always anot
Like in all story collections some stories are better, some are worse.In this case some stories where boring and alone I would rate them 1 star and some where 5 stars easily and reminded me why I consider Gaiman a deity.

My overall impression is that Smoke and mirrors is enjoyable book but not among Gaiman's best.I would recommend it to people who read most of his "major" books and are looking for more, than definitively read this.If you haven't, read those first than return and if you are unfami
Matt Garcia
Apr 05, 2015 Matt Garcia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting collection with a wide variety of stories. Horror, fantasy, science fiction, and other genres are present in this collection. Gaiman's imagination is unique and some of his stories have the ability to grab you and not let go until the end. A crisp, clean writing style and inventive premises make this an enjoyable collection. Some stories are exemplary while others fell flat. Overall, a worthwhile read from a truly talented writer who is not bound to any sort of genre limitation.
Jul 26, 2016 lina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 6-out-of-10
Зеркала — удивительные вещи. Они как будто говорят правду, отражают для нас реальный мир, но поставьте зеркало определенным образом, и оно станет лгать так убедительно, что вы поверите, будто предмет растворился в воздухе, коробка с голубками, флагами и пауками на самом деле пуста, а люди, спрятанные за кулисами или в оркестровой яме, — это покачивающиеся над сценой привидения. Найдите нужный угол — и зеркало превратится в створку магического окна: оно покажет вам все, что сумеет породить ваше в ...more
Paul  Perry
As with most short story collections, Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors is something of a mixed bag. When he is good he is sublime, and there is plenty in this volume that fits that description, but there are also a few stories that seem little more than jottings of ideas meant to be fleshed out or perhaps left over from longer works. There is also some laudable inventiveness which, for me, doesn't always quite work - for example his triptych of narrative poems - but nonetheless shows the writer's grea ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stories
Having read M is for Magic and Fragile Things I have encountered some of the short stories that Mr. Gaiman has written. I found this collection to be one of the most eclectic. Happy stories, sad stories, chilling stories, and erotic stories, but as he introduces them - all a product of smoke and mirrors. We're not to believe any of this, as it is all just an illusion. So why do I walk away feeling like it was all a bit too real?

I enjoyed the very experimental feel to this book. Some prose, some
Sep 15, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of two collections written by Neil Gaiman and a miscellany of stories from different genres. I like the style of Gaiman and I love this collection. It’s easy to go from a surreal story to a frightening or absurd. He has a great talent in capturing the reader's attention, starting with a story that seems to have heard something then go ahead.
I liked the tribute to Lovecraft with novels set in the town of Innsmouth and I must add that I'm not a fan of poetry. In any case, some of my fa
Kimberley doruyter
a wonderful collection of the madness that is neil gaiman.
Alexis Drake
Jul 31, 2015 Alexis Drake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gaiman
Chi mi segue già da un po’ sa che uno dei mei autori preferiti è Neil Gaiman, quindi, quando l’anno scorso sono stata in vacanza in Irlanda e Londra, ho colto l’occasione per prendere qualche suo volume in lingua originale, tra cui questo, Smoke and Mirrors, che è poi una raccolta di racconti.
Come un po’ tutte le raccolte di racconti, di qualsiasi autore, chiaramente ci sono dei racconti molto belli ed alcuni piuttosto insignificanti, o come in questo caso, abbastanza strampalati (cioè pi
Aug 03, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very happy I read these. This is a collection of very adult Neil Gaiman stories, written before he fell into his trusty formula of "Ordinary guy meets strange person, and then enters wacky wonderful fantasy world." They're sad, sexy, naughty, shivery, eerie, and occasionally moving. There's an early story called "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" that took my breath away, mainly because it must have been based on his own childhood. "Troll Bridge," a heart-tightening tale about the pain of g ...more
Evans Light

Much like Joe Hill did with the story hidden in the afterward of his 20th CENTURY GHOSTS collection, Gaiman has embedded a short tale, THE WEDDING PRESENT, in the introduction. It's well told, but doesn't ultimately lead to much. After this, his notes on all the tales in the book follow. While I truly enjoy author's notes in short story collections, I much prefer them to come after each story.


An old woman finds the Holy
Aug 10, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it took me so long to hop aboard the Neil Gaiman train, but better late than never, I suppose. I started with Smoke and Mirrors, his first compilation of short stories, and I was so surprised how different each story/poem was. He was able to leap from genre to topic to format with complete ease, and I applaud his inventiveness and creativity. I can't wait to read more from him in the future!
Ben Babcock
Now that I own copies of Neil Gaiman’s three short story anthologies, I re-read Fragile Things and then tackled this one, Smoke and Mirrors. As with Fragile Things this earlier collection has a description of each story’s origin in the introduction. Unlike the other collection, Smoke and Mirrors’ introduction also comes with a bonus short story embedded. So, yeah. There’s that.

I have to say that the more I read Gaiman’s stories the less unexpected or surprising they seem, if you know what I me
Kimberley doruyter
i have been enchanted, creeped out and thrilled
well done mister gaiman.
Mar 23, 2016 Jaleenajo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, and this is the second book of his short stories that I've read. I really enjoyed both, but I think that overall I preferred this collection over Fragile Things.

In the past I've struggled to finish short story collections--not because they weren't good, but because each story was so emotional and like a mini-book that I needed time to recover before moving onto the next one. Smoke and Mirrors isn't like that. Each story is well-done and resonates in a different wa
Kei Ci Bautista
May 09, 2012 Kei Ci Bautista rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I have to say, in quite an unconventional manner, that this book is a house. It is a house of dark fantasy every child has ever subconsciously dreamed of while asleep, in one way or another. It could be me, but I think that most readers, had they been given a chance to read any one of the story in this book, would be fascinated and awed as to how Gaiman came up with such a story/stories. Some would think, 'how absurd,' but at the end of the day, at some virtual point, half the consideration it w ...more
Hannah Greendale
Aug 25, 2016 Hannah Greendale rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Smoke and Mirrors reads like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark for adults, where something is always off and the endings are kitschy.

One of the peculiarities of Gaiman's writing is that he rarely introduces his readers to the worlds where his stories take place. He never alludes that the strange is the norm in these worlds, so when something supernatural or otherwordly happens, the event is simply plopped in the reader's lap. A Jack-in-the-box smiles at a child in a moonlit attic, or the Devil
Oct 19, 2008 Misarweth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Samael
Tant d'étagères, pour un recueil de nouvelles absolument splendide, maîtrisé et qui boursouflerait d'envie n'importe quel soufflet au fromage se prenant pour un auteur.
C'est à la fois tout, dans tous les sens et à la fois il en émane une unité, une cohérence, de structure, d'idée, qui vous mène là où vous ne le vouliez pas.

Neil Gaiman quoi.
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“When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far, it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.” 3111 likes
“Memory is the great deceiver. Perhaps there are some individuals whose memories act like tape recordings, daily records of their lives complete in every detail, but I am not one of them. My memory is a patchwork of occurrences, of discontinuous events roughly sewn together: The parts I remember, I remember precisely, whilst other sections seemed to have vanished completely.” 149 likes
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