Monday, October 26, 2015

Neil Gaiman, part 1: Short Stories

I've been a 'fan' of Neil Gaiman for a long time without really having read much of his work. This year, I've vowed to rectify that by delving into his many works, starting with some of his shorter items - a short novel and two illustrated short stories.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013)

One of the things I think I like best about Neil Gaiman is that I never really know where his stories are going. He almost always incorporates at least a little bit of fantasy in his writings, and that of course opens up the possibilities of 'what could happen' to truly anything.

This was such a story, and I enjoyed just going along for the ride. I really liked the characters, and that there was quite a bit of ambiguity in who many of the characters were and what was going on. This style of writing (when not overused or abused) allows the reader to work their own imaginations a bit more, which I appreciate (up to a certain point at least). The only slight complaint was that the ending was a little unsatisfying, but overall a really fun little story about mistakes and manipulation.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains (2010)

I actually listened to this first on audiobook, on the recommendation of a colleague. Read by Gaiman himself, it was a great way to be immersed in the feeling of the story. As it had originally been written with the intention of being read (or maybe even more accurately, performed) for an audience, I think it was an authentic experience.

This was what I would consider a modern fairy tale. I liked the way the story unfolded, and the twist at the end, however I do have one bone to pick with the ending. It's hard to explain in detail without giving a major spoiler, but suffice it to say that the backstory seems a little unrealistic to me and doesn't give the young woman in the story nearly enough credit. But, as with Ocean, I really enjoyed the ride.

The Sleeper and the Spindle (2014)
Another fairy tale, this time an update on both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, and this one I loved, with no quibbles or complaints! I loved that Snow White was the protagonist and hero, and the twist at the end was great  much more interesting than the Disney version and quite a bit less violent than the Brothers Grimm original. In fact, I liked the story so much that I wish it had been longer. The illustrations by Chris Riddell were beautiful as well. Definitely a great, short read for adults and children alike.

Keep reading! Beth

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