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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fiction and Illusions

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  58,187 ratings  ·  2,551 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
Published August 30th 2005 by Avon Books (first published November 1998)
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4.05  · 
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 ·  58,187 ratings  ·  2,551 reviews

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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
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
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 thi ...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
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 relat
Abbie | ab_reads
2.5 stars, a few gems but way too many narrative poems and meh stories.
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
As much as I adore Gaiman’s writing style, it seemed like none of these short stories were chosen thoughtfully. I enjoyed this book a though, so it gets a 3.5 from me.

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
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
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
Kimberley doruyter
a wonderful collection of the madness that is neil gaiman.
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How weird and marvelous is Gaiman's mind
Andrea ❤Ninja Bunneh❤
I hate saying this, but I'm only giving this one 3 stars.

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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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lecturas-2017
segundo recopilatorio que leo del autor y me ha gustado mucho más. Por la temática de los relatos más oscuros, más de ciencia ficción, más adultos...Pero todos con ese toque tan particular del autor. Seguro que muchos os sorprenderá u os hará ver la realidad de otra forma como me ha ocurrido con el último relato. Muy recomendable a lectores asiduos del autor.

Más sobre mi opinión en la reseña del blog
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.
Apr 05, 2012 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
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I just think I'm the wrong audience for this book. Some of the novellas I thought were okay and others I skimmed. Nothing really grabbed my attention to make me sit up and say, "Wow that was amazing".
I'll bypass Gaiman's short stories in future and just continue reading his novels.
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
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
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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 and learn, I suppose. One star.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Everything in this world casts a shadow, and I suspect Neil Gaiman looks deeper into the shadows than most of us will ever have the courage to. Smoke and Mirrors is a hugely varied collection of short stories in terms of length and subject matter, but there is a thread of delving into the shadow-world of half-seen things we fear that ties them all together.

There are many reasons to read this book, but my reason is to discover the very best, and most disturbing Snow White retelling I have ever e
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