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Smoke and Mirrors [Paperback]

Neil Gaiman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

19 Sep 2005

This definitive collection of Neil Gaiman's short fiction will haunt your imagination and move you to the very depths of your soul.

An elderly widow finds the Holy Grail beneath an old fur coat. A stray cat fights and refights a terrible nightly battle to protect his unwary adoptive family from unimaginable evil. A young couple receives a wedding gift that reveals a chilling alternative history of their marriage. These tales and much more await in this extraordinary book, revealing one of our most gifted storytellers at the height of his powers.

Includes extra material exclusive to this Headline Review edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (19 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755322835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755322831
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neil Gaiman is a tour de force of creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust, both of which are major motion films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His latest title, The Graveyard Book, won the Teenage Booktrust Prize 2009. Neil has been immortalised in song by Tori Amos, and is a songwriter himself. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Best known for his Sandman graphic novels about Morpheus, Lord of Dreams, Neil Gaiman has also written the standalone books Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett), Never Where from his BBC TV series revealing a fantastic realm under London, and Star Dust, a poignant fairy tale. His shorter fantasies are regularly picked for Year's Best collections. Smoke and Mirrors assembles 36 of his favourite stories, prose poems, and verse pieces. Among the imaginative inventions here are a murder mystery set among angels in heaven; the discovery of the Holy Grail at Oxfam; warped retellings of fairy tales and folklore, including a Snow White that's black beyond belief; several clever variations on vampirism; a firm of contract killers with a very remarkable discount scheme; homages to Michael Moorcock and H.P. Lovecraft (one splendidly funny) that avoid mere pastiche; an SF world of rapid and reversible sex changes; Beowulf retold as a Baywatch episode; a tasty amalgamation of computers and black magic; a new final book of the Bible; and the grim wedding present that's simply a manuscript telling a bleakly different story of the recipients' unfolding marriage. SF/fantasy professionals themselves envy Gaiman's perpetual flow of new ideas and ability to put a fresh spin on old ones. Smoke and Mirrors is a dazzlingly varied and rewarding collection. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'A very fine and imaginative writer' (The Sunday Times)

'Exuberantly inventive' (Kirkus Reviews)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Treasure Trove! 5 Mar 2006
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Neil Gaiman is a master story teller, IMHO, and this selection of short stories by him is the perfect showcase for his talents. An incredible assortment of tales awaits the reader in this marvelous book - an old lady that finds the Holy Grail in an Oxfam shop for 30p - a little boy that meets a troll - the shortest but most haunting Xmas story I've ever read - the Jack-in-the-box that no-one played with......oh, so many and all are pure genius. My personal favourite is the very last in the book, which is a re-telling of Snow White and because of N G's version I will never think of her in the same light again. I feel that several of these stories have the potential of becoming full length novels one day - I'll just have to wait and see. One warning, if you haven't read any of Gaiman's work before you will soon become addicted after reading this book.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling but enjoyable 4 Jan 2004
This is a collection of some of Neil Gaiman's short works. You could say there were poems and stories in the book, but saying there is prose, a rondel, long verse, short verse and some peculiar mixtures of obscure types of writing would be a better description.
A few of the stories are the conventional type but many of them are not. Most of the stories have a fairly dark subject matter - indeed some of them are truly horrible - but all are marvellously written, and most extremely original.
There's also a long introduction to the book with a small commentary on each piece plus an extra bonus story.
This isn't a book I'd buy as a present for someone unless I knew their tastes extremely well. It's not the type of book that everyone would enjoy - there are sexual stories, there are dark deeds and just the layouts of some of the pieces make them more different than some people would feel happy with - but I thought it was brilliant. Not every piece will hit the mark, but it's not the type of fluffy read you'll wonder why you bothered with. It's full of stories that stay with you for a long time.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest Modern Storytellers. 19 Mar 2002
There is something so absolutely compelling about everything that Neil Gaiman seems to write. I don't know quite how he does it, but I always find myself picking up one of his books and being drawn into regardless of my own freewill or choice. Here in this collection of Short stories stands a fine example of something that many writers these days do not always succeed in - Gaiman shows us how a story should be told. These tales may be short but each of them is complete in their own way, and even at their darkest they can be amusing, and totally engrossing.
I would recomend to anybody with a few hours to kill that picking up this volume would be a couple of hours very well spent. Right from his introduction Gaiman makes the reader feel a part of these little worlds he's created and somehow you just have to read them all. If you haven't discovered this guy yet - it's about time you did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
From the very introduction, Gaiman allows your mind to speculate on what is yet to come. What is to come is quite impressive. Regardless of the setting, no matter how long or short the tale, Gaiman brings a touch of humanity to all his characters. With many short works of fiction, one feels that characterisation is lacking, but with Gaiman's work, you find yourself feeling for the character with a fee short paragraphs. While there are some stories that I feel could benefit from some polishing, the overal book contains stories that will entertain, and most importantly, *think* after reading them. This book is recommended for those who want their stories with impact and which wil leave the reader with where the characters may continue...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult on Kindle 24 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
First, I am hugely biased because I love practically everything Neil Gaiman writes. There are some absolutely wonderful stories in here; for example, having read his version of Snow White I want him to redo all the old fairy stories (PLEASE!!).

However I really wanted to read his comments/commentary in conjunction with each story - to understand a little more how he writes and how these came to be written. In a paperback, this would be easy - just use two bookmarks and move them both forward each time. Yes, I know I can bookmark in Kindle but it's clumsy to keep tagging back to the commentary section and having to delete old bookmarks otherwise I got confused about which one to aim for. I love my Kindle to pieces but this is one book I'd have preferred to read on paper.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Gaiman says it all 25 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As always totally bonkers and lovely what else can you say about this guy ? Never read anything rubbish of his
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4.0 out of 5 stars short stories 21 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
some of the stories are very deep and paradoxical,although i did find some of the stories predictable,its okay,read better,read worse
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Dark 6 Feb 2014
By Lydia
Since watching Stardust, a few years back, I had the impression that the person who wrote it was funny, dark and a definite invite to a fantasy dinner party. I suspected that I would love whoever had written it and I was right.

I started reading Smoke and Mirrors around my friends’, Nick and Em’s, house after Nick said he had a book that he thought I would enjoy. Normally I would have put the book away and taken it home for later. I like to think of myself as a fairly social being after all, and, as much as it sometimes pains me, I know that reading at a party is not generally the done thing. But, as everyone was settling down to watch a film and as they are good friends, who I doubted would mind, I started reading. I’m not actually sure what the film was but I am sure that missing it was worthwhile to get my first glimpse of Gaiman’s writing.

I have to admit that I have not really read a book of short stories since I was young, I have always chosen to get stuck into a novel, believing that the depth and longevity, were things I needed. I was right about needing the depth but very wrong to think it could only be truly gained from a novel, certainly in this case anyway. To liken it to food (quite appropriate given some of Gaiman’s stories) reading each piece was like a taking a mouthful of an incredibly velvety, rich chocolate cake, you only needed a bite to get the whole flavour. It was enough. Each story was just enough.

As Gaiman himself says the process and mechanics of writing fascinate him and this can be seen through this multi-genre book, the fact that he plays around with the structure of his stories and that authors appear as protagonists.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Glimpse of Brilliance
The good thing about reading an author's work retrospectively is to see how far he has come in his writing career. Read more
Published 3 months ago by J. Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A great short fiction selection from a great writer. Worth a read, or four. Gaiman is one of the best writers today.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. S. J. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't read it last thing at night
Brilliant stuff, but not for bedtime reading. I've learned my lesson. Amazon says nine words are required. Three. Two. One.
Published 3 months ago by Ms. D. L. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Neil gaiman
It's a book by Neil Gaiman, did you expect anything less than an absolute masterpiece that blows your mind away?
Published 5 months ago by Baz
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
Great set of short stories. Very easy to pick up and read one or two at a time. Excellent if you like a little bit of darkness to your short stories too. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bobby Bawbaggins
2.0 out of 5 stars Juvenilia
This is a mixed bag, as you might expect. There are a few good stories in here - in particular I thought Shoggoth's Old Peculiar and the reworking of Snow White were both witty and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr Nobody
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Collection of short stories telling little snippets of what you imagine could be long novels, great book. Neil Gaiman is great.
Published 10 months ago by Jessica
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a 'Feel Good Read'
This was reviewed as a 'feel good read'. but was far from it. I read only four stories and every one seemed to be be odder and more fanciful than the one before. Read more
Published 13 months ago by patB
4.0 out of 5 stars Some great stories, some average
I love Neil Gaiman's books and was excited to get this collection of short stories (to read on the train to work). Some of them really pull you in and I couldn't put them down. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Natanya
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