Reading In The Dark : A Sort Of Review Of Trigger Warning By Neil Gaiman

When I first discovered the writing of Neil Gaiman, I. Was. Addicted. It was first his collection of short fictions and poetry Fragile Things, followed by his masterpiece The Sandman.

The Sandman is, hands down, the best, and I mean the best comic book series in existence. If you haven’t read it, I STRONGLY URGE YOU to check it out when you’re done reading this. It will improve your life by, like, 100% And I’m not kidding around here folks. I am being deadly fucking serious.

I had the good fortune to satisfy my addiction by reading from the special edition hardbacks and they are so fucking gorgeous that you will, like me, be so freaking careful not to break the spine, and turn the pages like they’ll fly away if you turn them to roughly. The hardbacks are works of art in themselves, even before you get to the comic.

Anyway, now you know how I feel about that, to the book in question.

I hadn’t been to the library in about a month, so when I arrived I was on the fucking ball and piled myself in front of the horror and fantasy section – you know, making myself as big as possible so no one else could have a chance of getting anywhere near to the shelves – with a hope there would be something decent. There was lots of things decent – shockingly, as that very rarely happens for me, as I’m an English woman in a Swedish library.

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When I landed on Trigger Warning, I was so bloody thrilled. I hardly even needed to read the blurb. It went on the pile. Trigger Warning is a collection of short fictions – each with its own intro – running with the theme that we all wear masks. I got settled in with the main introduction to the book and made myself ready for a long night of reading…

‘We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting. These are stories about those masks, and the people we are underneath them.’ Neil Gaiman, writing from a cabin in the dark woods.

Make sure you secure your own mask before reading. Before being transported to worlds filled with witches, watchers and big black bees, with deathless Kin and pirate girls, with things that prowl in the darkness beyond the circle fire, to find the Shadder lurking at your journey’s end. But then what happens? There’s always something waiting for you. There’s always more. Just keep turning the pages.

‘We each have our little triggers.’

Literary alchemy from ‘a writer of rare perception and endless imagination’ (William Gibson), TRIGGER WARNING is a cornucopia of storytelling: horror and ghost stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry. It will open your eyes to the inexhaustible supply of darkness around you, the magic and the monsters, the myths and the miracles, and to finding truths in the most extraordinary of places. – Trigger Warning

Right. I don’t really know how to put this, but, well, I didn’t enjoy any of the two dozen stories, mar one. The last one. I don’t like to do reviews where I’m slagging someone off, so I’m going to keep this bad bit short.

The stories were just too nonsensical. Strange for the sake of being strange. I didn’t give a damn about any of the characters I met, and the introductions felt like they were just opportunities for Gaiman to namedrop his books and his achievement, which, lets be honest here, he really doesn’t need to do. I was so fucking disappointed, you wouldn’t believe.

But I was glad I gave each one an opportunity, else I would have missed out on the last tale – Black Dog – and the whole reading endeavour would have been a massive waste of time. I have something of an obsession with the black dog, black shuck, the barghest – whatever you want to call this demon dog of death, so felt some life crawl back into me when I found that Gaiman had been inspired by this legend of folklore. This tale had all the right ingredients for a satisfying, dark literary journey, one I could have journeyed on for pages more.

In a rural northern village, legend tells of a ghostly black dog that appears from the darkness before you die.

Shadow Moon has been on the road a while now but he can’t walk any further tonight, not with the rain lashing down. Gratefully, he heads home with a nice English couple, who offer a box room, hot whisky and local tales.

But when the man collapses en route, Shadow realises that something about this place has been left untold.

Something ancient, something within the very walls of the village.

Something shadowing them all. – Goodreads

Have you read Trigger Warning? What did you make of it?

If you want more dark, bookish writing, head over to one of my all-time favourite blog hangouts, These Unquiet Things.

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