Neil Gaiman can be depended upon for a journey into the realms of myth and magic and ghost stories. So, I thought I would love his new short story collection. I adored Stardust and Neverwhere; plus, I had read one of his short stories in a different collection ("The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains...") But, the stories as a whole in Trigger Warning just didn't quite do it for me. Maybe because I read the collection too quickly, and maybe it would be better to savor each story and pick apart the references lovingly embedded in each one. There were definitely some gems -- "Orange" stood out to me, as a series of responses to an investigator's questions, and "A Calendar of Tales," very short stories focused on each month of the year. Plus the theme of the collection - the idea of a "trigger warning" - was lovely. As Gaiman writes in the introduction (which was written in a very frank, I-am-talking-to-my-readers type of way, which I adore):
There are things that upset us. That's not quite what we're talking about here, though. I'm thinking rather about those images or words or ideas that drop like trapdoors beneath us, throwing us out of our safe, sane world into a place much more dark and less welcoming... And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead.
The collection felt disjointed when read all at once. Yes, there were touches of magic in each story. But I think had a few been left out, the whole would have been stronger. And because many of the short stories had been published elsewhere for different purposes, they didn't feel properly curated. It's like if you had gone to a museum and it was just a jumble of different pieces by different artists with no unifying theme. That isn't to say each of the pieces themselves weren't interesting on their own. Just they could maybe have been left on their own. What I can recommend of Neil Gaiman's work, if you're looking for a good magical read: with a love story: Stardust, for the YA set: The Graveyard Book, or a fantastic reworking of mythology: American Gods (seriously, go read American Gods if you haven't yet). Or check Trigger Warning out of your library and just read a a few of the stories. Maybe the lesson I learned is that I should read short story collections slower, or not feel the need to read every single story. Rating: ★★★