17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
An interesting mix that's easy to read
, 26 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Fragile Things (Paperback)
Of the collection, I'd already read How To Speak To Girls At Parties and A Study In Emerald before and of the two, I think that A Study In Emerald is the stronger story. For those who don't know, A Study In Emerald is a hybrid of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Locecraft's Call of Cthulu, set in an alternative world where the Old Ones rule over man and one of their number has been murdered. Gaiman nails the tone and the narrative voice and the story itself is fascinating. How To Speak To Girls At Parties, by contrast, reads like fluff - it's amusing but the ending is weak.
With those stories that were new to me, I particularly enjoyed The Problem Of Susan, which looks at what happened to the fourth Pevensie sibling after her brothers and sister were permanently taken to Narnia. Gaiman makes Narnia a much darker place and subverts the antagonism between Aslan and the White Witch and whilst the reporter is a little forced at times, Susan herself is very believable. Harlequin Valentine is an entertaining take on the relationship between Harlequin and Columbine, with a neat twist at the end that makes you feel sorry for the trickster. Sunbird, a story that Gaiman wrote as a present for his daughter, Holly, is an amusing look at an epicuran society in their search for the ultimate gastronomic experience. Gaiman uses a stylised narrative that should jar, but doesn't and again, it has a very neat ending.
I didn't particularly enjoy Diseasemaker's Croup (the style's fine and I can see what he's doing with it, but it just didn't grab me) or Pages From A Journal Found In A Shoebox In A Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky (which is too much of a stream of consciousness story that again, didn't grab me). I also felt that October In The Chair, a story that Gaiman says in his introduction was originally intended to be part of another collection, felt unfulfilling and whilst that's partly to do with the decidely open ending, it's also because you feel that there's a backstory there that needs to be developed further.
The collection finishes with a novella, a sort of follow-on to Gaiman's excellent novel, American Gods, in which Shadow has travelled to a remote part of Scotland, where he is invited to work as a bodyguard to an unusual party for one weekend. Whilst I think that the central hook of the story is a little contrived, Gaiman weaves in Norse legend with contemporary life in a way that carries the reader along nicely and his portrayal of Grendel is quite heartbreaking. It also made me want to see a full length sequel to American Gods as I think that Shadow is a fascinating and troubled character and one with more tales to tell.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?