Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has the unique talent of being able to write something that scares you and comforts you at the same time. Quite how he does this, I have never managed to put my finger on, but perhaps that mystery is exactly what brings me back again and again to his tales.

I picked up Trigger Warning a few weeks ago from my local library, (an action I know Neil himself would have approved of) and in the week it took me to read through the entire collection I think I felt every emotion possible.

If you liked Coraline as a child (or an adult), you will love Trigger Warning. It’s the best of Gaiman’s weird and wonderful writing that will have you fearfully checking your room to make sure that everything is the way it should be. From stories that are just two pages long, to longer tales arching several themes, there is something in this collection for everyone to enjoy and be a little disturbed by. I particularly enjoyed The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains. I’d heard a lot about this story, since I follow Neil Gaiman on tumblr and he had documented parts of his journey of turning it into a performance piece. The tale isn’t what you think it is, and that is what makes it so fantastic. Being one of the longer stories in this collection, it flows and ebbs with the deep lyrical quality that Gaiman’s writing possesses, taking you on a journey as full as suspense and danger as the characters in the tale.

Gaiman knows enough about story telling that he can create rich characters in just a few sentences, a skill that he puts to good use throughout Trigger Warning. Other stand outs (for me) included The Return of the Thin White Duke, Black Dog, and Click-Clack the Rattlebag.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag is only 4 and a half pages long, but it still managed to scare me half to death, and jump at every sound I heard for the next few nights.

Black Dog continues on the story of Shadow from American Gods and reimagines depression as a literal huge black dog that is just a little bit deadly. I enjoyed reading about Shadow’s futile attempts to walk away from what is his life now, and had to go back and re-read American Gods just because I had so much fun reading about him again.

The Return of the Thin White Duke was somewhat poignant for me as I read this collection quite soon after the death of David Bowie. In the end, it turned into a fitting tribute. It was nice to imagine David Bowie’s exit from our world as more like the exit from Gaiman’s story, continuing his adventure in another plane of existence.

Trigger Warnings is definitely something you should pick up and have a flick through if you like well told short stories, or scaring yourself for fun. You will want to go back and read your favourites again and spend hours imagining tales that carry on from the ones Gaiman has woven. In the end, isn’t that the point of telling stories?

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