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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  64,463 ratings  ·  2,828 reviews
In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion... and anything is possible. In this, Gaiman's first book of short stories, his imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders -- a place where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 365 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2020 by Avon Books (first published November 1st 1998)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  64,463 ratings  ·  2,828 reviews


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Kevin Kuhn
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gaiman is literary bacon - short stories, young adult, fantasy, adult fiction - he’s good in anything! “Smoke and Mirrors” is a collection of 30 or so short stories. They run the gamut from sci-fi to very short parables to fantasy to magical realism. It’s not his best work, but as a collection it’s imaginative and provocative. I enjoyed a majority of these stories and Gaiman continues to be one of my favorite authors. Some of my preferences were “Chivalry”, “Changes”, “We Can Get Them for You Wh ...more
Swaroop Kanti
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neil Gaiman never disappoints!

That's what this book is - smokes and mirrors - an interesting collection of short stories and poems.

A diverse mix of crazy, dark, engaging, weird and hilarious!
...more
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
I keep saying, "one more Neil Gaiman book and I'll figure out what the big deal is..." Spoiler, I haven't yet. Though, I did enjoy some of these stories (indicated by a *). There's far more that weren't enjoyable.

Introduction - PLEASE skip - this is so, so long. It's a short story in and of itself. Though, technically he hid another short story within that: The Wedding Present - Originally written as a wedding present, this marriage slowly but surely sinks to the pits of despair.

Chivalry - A c
...more
Matt
Nov 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
'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
...more
Jc
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 things ...more
Althea Ann
May 03, 2016 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
...more
Amanda NEVER MANDY
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, neil-before-me
Apparently I am not a fan of his short stories, they are bad. I gave his other short story collection book three stars and that was being kind. This one is getting two because I am all out of kindness.

A better review to come.

-Here is my attempt at a better review. Normally I would delete the prereview BS but I like it this time so it stays.-

This is the second short story collection I have read from this author and they have both been thumbs down experiences. I definitely have a love/hate rel
...more
Abbie | ab_reads
2.5 stars, a few gems but way too many narrative poems and meh stories.
April
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Petergiaquinta
Jul 29, 2012 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
...more
Lucy Banks
Feb 18, 2018 rated it liked it
A little disappointing, though with some flourishes of fabulousness.

I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan. So much so, I cite him as one of the authors that made me want to write. Most of his books are fantastically imaginative, exciting and wonderfully plotted, and a couple of them rank among my all-time favourite books.

As a result, I launched into his collection of short stories with high expectations. I should say, for the record, I like short stories - I apprediate the whole 'bite-sized' concept, that
...more
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
...more
Book Wonderland
Don't really see the hype with this author. There's only a few good or okay ones, the rest is rather just meh... or I just don't care. Some of them were terrible.
My favorite stories are: The Price (5 stars), Looking for The Girl (4 stars), Snow, Glass and Apples (4 stars)

The Wedding Present: 3 stars
A couple receives a novel as wedding gift. The story keep changing. This was ok, but could have been more interesting.

Chivalry: 3 stars
I would have accepted infinity life for sure.

Nicholas Was...:
...more
Rahma Abdelrahman
DNF @71%
This book has been on my TBR for years, so naturally I had very high hopes. To say I am disappointed is a massive understatement... Most stories are boring, sometimes downright bad. Maybe I'm missing something, maybe I'm not. Maybe it's just how old this collection is--I wasn't even born when it was published. (Edit: I was one when it was published.)

That said, I did enjoy Good Omens, so I'm not entirely giving up on Neil Gaiman's work.

List of Stories:

1. The Wedding Present: 2.5 stars
...more
that_scarlet_girl
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How weird and marvelous is Gaiman's mind
Laura
Jun 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2017
DNF at 50%.
I couldn't really get myself to love any of the stories here. I liked some of them at most; as for the rest... maybe they were just too short.
Sam
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories was the perfect way to introduce me to the works of Neil Gaiman. I loved his style of writing. I was afraid it might be a little pretentious and too high-brow for me, but it was quite the opposite. It was simple, enjoyable and highly imaginative.

I mean, it's pretty obvious that in a book of short stories, one will not love ALL of them, but I really enjoyed more than half of the stories and the only problem I had with the remaining ones were that they went comple
...more
Trish
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first ever book filled with short stories and, naturally, it was BRILLIANT! I honestly expected Neil Gaiman to deliver a somewhat magical experience since he never disappointed me so far. However, I'm new to short stories and didn't know if it was for me since I usually prefer novels. But this collection has some real gems!
Chilling stories, funny stories, sometimes stories with only a couple of lines, other times quite long short stories, but ALWAYS stories with wit and more than two hidden m
...more
Kimberley doruyter
a wonderful collection of the madness that is neil gaiman.
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
...more
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
Latharia
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Luffy
Jan 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: let-down, one-star
What a less than average writer! I don't see what the fuss about Gaiman! Maybe he's not the author for me but some of the glitches in his writing are universally recognized as disjointed, especially by my former English teacher.

Smoke and mirrors got more than 4 stars on this site, and it's an outrageous score. There's simply just no perspective anymore. And I thought IMDB had bad scoring...live and learn, I suppose. One star.
J
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Tastings
Snow, Glass, Apples
Only the End of the World Again
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
We Can Get Them for You Wholesale
Chivalry
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
...more
lazybookconqueror
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dark, old-but-gold
The perfect beside book for those who like to gamble with their nighttime routine. You can find something soothing, something magical, something curious, or something that will haunt you for the next 50 years. I absolutely love it. Enjoy.
Nefeli
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was reading reviews about this one and at some point, I realized that I read about half of it a couple of years ago. I DNF'd because I was bored out of my mind, so it's not surprising that I completely forgot about it. There were a couple of stories that I liked (We Can Get Them For You Wholesale is one that comes to mind) but all in all, I wasn't impressed.

I'm still trying to figure out what it is about Gaiman that makes him so loved by almost everyone. I usually like his ideas but hate the
...more
Michael
Undoubtedly Mr Gaiman is greatly talented but I didn't really enjoy all of these tales. That's the problem with short stories; you just start to get into them and then they're finished.

Definitely worth a read but no more than 3 out of 5 stars for me.
Constantine
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-4-star, z2018-07
Rating: 4.0/5.0

This book has lots of peculiar short stories, many of them are explicit in nature and very much adult. So be warned if you are not into that. I found some stories to be very interesting despite being strange, others were a bit boring, but overall I liked the majority of the stories here. These stories are mixtures of fantasy and horror. What differentiates Neil Gaiman's writing here is that most of these stories have no kind of proper ending or closure so be prepared for that. I f
...more
Sara Saif
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was ok

So this book is how I finally got punished for not doing proper research before starting a book. The universe had decided I had gone on long enough and it was time I was taught a proper lesson.


I learned several things after reading this book:

a) This anthology was weird AF.
b) That 90% stories in it were erotic, disturbing and straight up distasteful.
c) Almost all were intense but made no sense at all.
b) I might not enjoy more Neil Gaiman books in the future so I shouldn't ever try.


I read this ent
...more
Hannah Greendale
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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Fantasy Buddy Reads: Smoke and Mirrors 34 50 Jun 29, 2017 06:49PM  
A Million More Pages: Smoke and Mirrors: May 3 10 21 May 06, 2015 01:07PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Smoke and Mirrors By Neil Gaiman 2 20 Mar 31, 2015 03:20PM  
Good, but he does best with a larger canvas 12 80 Sep 13, 2014 04:42PM  

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