Gaiman’s latest collection of short fiction showcases an artist at the peak of productivity. His largely unconnected array of prose and poetry showcases an unparalleled ability to introduce fresh and engaging characters, and to confront the conventions of storytelling.
While much of the collection falls under the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, it is written with a style and confidence that defies its generic origins, though it retains a distinctive love for incongruous detail. From the truly original ‘Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire’, a joyfully daft story about an author striving for realism in an unbearably gothic world, to the familial warmth of pieces like ‘October in the Chair’, and ‘Instructions’, Gaiman keeps his standards high.
It is this strength that is, ultimately, frustrating, as Gaiman once too often reverts to the needlessly provocative or graphic in place of narrative depth or character study. Still, the variety of voices and themes on display remains spectacular, and there are only a few weak links in a collection that definitely merits a look into. You never know what little treasure you