Book Review: “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances” by Neil Gaiman

“Many of these stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.”

Hardcover edition; William Morrow 2015. 310 pages.

Hardcover edition; William Morrow 2015.
310 pages.

I was first exposed to the world of Neil Gaiman in my seventh-grade English class when I chose to do a book report on his newly released children’s book, Coraline. I waited until law school to explore his adult works and found that each of them provided a fantastic escape from the assorted stresses and pressures of school, and he quickly became my absolute favorite author. Neverwhere, Good Omens, and American Gods would all be among the books I would take with me if stranded on a desert island. This new short story collection, although the most recently published, was the first of his three sets that I decided to read. I was never that into short stories, but I’m trying to diversify my reading habits and get more into them, and figured that this book would not disappoint since it is, after all, Neil Gaiman. Although some of the stories in this collection were better than others, I didn’t think that any of them at all were “bad.” Several of the stronger ones were truly amazing to me, and this was a solid 5-star read that has motivated me to read Gaiman’s other two short story sets ASAP.

The title of the collection refers to the increasing frequency with which the term “trigger warning” itself is appearing, particularly on the internet so as to warn sensitive readers and users of potentially upsetting content. Rather than waiting for others to give the stories this label, Gaiman wants us to know from the forefront that this collection is dark. Some of them (“Click-Clack the Rattlebag”; “My Last Landlady”) are just a few pages long and perfectly creepy. Others (“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”) are more substantial and developed, with horrors that take a bit longer to reveal themselves. The closing tale (“Black Dog”) was excellently crafted and deeply disturbing, returning us to the world of Shadow and a few other characters from American Gods. Some stories are a bit lighter and led me to ponder rather than shiver (“Orange” in particular made me laugh out loud). It’s probably no surprise at all that my two favorites were “Nothing O’clock” which was a perfect Doctor Who story, featuring the 11th Doctor and my favorite companion (Amy Pond), originally written for the 50th anniversary, that could have so easily been an episode, and “The Case of Death and Honey” which took a closer look at Sherlock Holmes’ beekeeping hobby in his old age. I could continue, but I think that at least some of the stories should come as a surprise to those who choose to read them 🙂 Suffice it to say that in my opinion Gaiman has a true gift and I will continue to read and probably adore anything that this man will ever write.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances” by Neil Gaiman

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  2. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday #6: Top Ten Fairy Tale Retellings | The Bookish Barrister

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