Airiz C's Reviews > Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman
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Jun 09, 11

bookshelves: dark-humor, drama, fantasy, horror, humor, my-favorites, romance, science-fiction, surreal
Read in October, 2009 — I own a copy, read count: 3

Sir Terry Pratchett once said that Neil Gaiman is more of a conjurer than a wizard: “Wizards don’t have to work. They wave their hands, and the magic happens. But conjurers…work very hard. They spend a lot of time in their youth watching, very carefully, the conjurers of their day…and they take center stage and amaze you with flags of all nations and smoke and mirrors, and you cry, ‘Amazing! How does he do it? What happened to the elephant? Where’s the rabbit? Did he really smash my watch?’ And in the back row we, the other conjurers, say quietly, ‘Well done. Isn’t that a variant of the Prague Levitating Sock? Wasn’t that Pascual’s Spirit Mirror, where the girl isn’t really there? But where the hell did that flaming sword come from?’ And we wonder if there may be such a thing as wizardry after all…”
That pretty much sums up all my thoughts about Gaiman when I was reading Smoke and Mirrors, my first prose-and-poem anthology by my personal literary rock star.

I’m enamored with his longer works like American Gods, Good Omens, and The Sandman series. Traipsing deeper into his fictional world, I found out that his shorter works are not a different beast entirely. The entries in Smoke and Mirrors maintain the same magic that his longer works have, in a way that the works cast a spell among the readers to continue reading.

You can tell that I’m a Gaimaniac, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to have this compilation overhyped. While this compendium still received two thumbs up from me, I must say that this is not the best representative of his genius. There are stories that are worth reading, but there are also some duds.
The stories I liked the most include: The Wedding Present, a story about a newly-wed couple with a cool The Picture of Dorian Gray-esque twist; Chivalry, a funny story about an old woman who bought the Holy Grail from a secondhand thrift shop; the Daughter of Owls, a story told in style of 17th century writer and historian John Aubrey; Snow, Glass, and Apples, a morbid reimagining of the tale of Snow White from the perspective of the Queen (if you read this, I guarantee you that you won’t be able to see the original story the same way again); Tastings, a well-written flash fiction about rare psychic abilities that are only present during sexual intercourse; and Murder Mysteries, a fascinating hardboiled crime story focusing on the first grave transgression committed in Heaven.

Over all it’s an amazing read. Most of Gaiman’s stories are morbidly flummoxing, sexually explicit, and hauntingly violent. Speculative fiction buffs might like this treasure box of literature, and anyone who wants to have a light reading or expecting jolly fantasy stories can do themselves a favor and stay away from this book. :D Still, I reiterate for readers who want to enter Gaiman’s world, this anthology is not the best entranceway. You might want to start with Neverwhere or Stardust. :D
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