Tag Archives: Neil Gaiman

Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers: Magical Tales of Love and Seduction
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Storm Constantine, Delia Sherman, Joyce Carol Oates, Tanith Lee, Edward Bryant, Garry Kilworth, Michael Swanwick, Elizabeth E. Wein, Pat Murphy, Ellen Steiber, Jane Yolen, Dave Smeds, Neil Gaiman, Doris Egan, Melissa Lee Shaw, Kelley Eskridge, Brian Stableford, Conrad Williams, Mark W. Tiedemann, Ellen Kushner, Wendy Froud & Bruce Glassco
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Lust, Paranormal fantasy, Paranormal romance, Short story collections
Dates read: 6th January – 19th May 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: She abruptly saw herself as if from another’s eyes, toiling in dirty work clothes with the sharp blades, the mirror, the powdered remains.

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Synopsis

Prepare to be seduced by powerful magic — the sorcery of lust, need, and sensuality. Multiple award-winners Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have gathered together twenty-two tales of unearthly temptations wickedly concocted by some of today’s most potent literary conjurers — including Neil Gaiman, Jan Yolen, Michael Swanwick, and Joyce Carol Oates. Here are stories of incubi and succubi, of forbidden fruits harvested in erotic gardens, of pleasures that persist beyond death. So heed the sirens’ song. Lie back, relax, and submit to the darkest delights you have ever experienced.

Thoughts

This collection isn’t quite toe curling, it isn’t quite horrific, but a nice mix between the two. It makes you think about the weirdness of sexuality. And the uniqueness of those things that go bump in the night. And thrive upon our sexual, deepest, darkest desires. I was honestly expecting this to be a little more of an uncomfortable read. However, mostly, I just found it intriguing.

This is a great collection of some very familiar authors, and some very new authors. It was a good way to depart from the realities of the world and be entertained by the imaginations of some very creative people. It wasn’t necessarily my favourite collection ever, the thread tying each of these tales together wasn’t as distinct as other collections. But it was a seriously enjoyable journey regardless.

This is definitely a collection that I’ll pick up again at some point in the future. It’s fun, light and easy. Also, there are a number of authors that I still need to hunt out books for… I enjoyed each and everyone of these stories.

<- ToadMy Lady of the Hearth ->

Image source: Goodreads

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman

Overview
How the Marquis Got His Coat Back (Rogues, #18) by Neil Gaiman

Title: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: London Below, the World of Neverwhere #1.5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 20th April 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: headline
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: What’s it say?

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Synopsis

A Neverwhere short story from one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation – the Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of the award-winning The Ocean At the End of the Lane.

The coat. It was elegant. It was beautiful. It was so close that he could have reached out and touched it.

And it was unquestionably his.

Thoughts

After reading Neverwhere, I felt completely, intensely, happily complete. It is just one of those stories that you turn the final page and just go… wow. And then break out into a HUGE smile. What I didn’t really think about though was that the Marquis had lost his coat. And, well, really anything much about the Marquis because he wasn’t my most or least favourite character. And then I found this short story at the back of my novel…

One of the most potent things that this short story did for me was to actually make me like the Marquis so much more. He wasn’t one dimensional or anything in Neverwhere, but I didn’t feel any tight emotional connection to him. Not a positive one. And not a negative one. But, showing a little of how he became the Marquis and why made me feel a lot more bonded to him than I had anticipated. It was certainly a pleasant and surprising outcome of such a short story.

The other aspect of this story that I really loved because of the illumination it provided was the Shepherds of Shepherds Bush (I THINK I got that right). It’s mentioned in Neverwhere that you don’t want to meet the Shepherds. And now I completely understand why. Although, I still found it an incredibly fun adventure actually getting to meet them anyway!!!

<- NeverwhereThe Seven Sisters ->

Image source: Goodreads

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Neverwhere Illustrated Edition - Neil Gaiman - Hardcover

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: London Below, The World of Neverwhere #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Science fiction, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 12th – 20th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: headline
Year: 1996
5th sentence, 74th page: Oh yes.

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Synopsis

Under the streets of London lies a world most people could never dream of.

When Richard Mayhew helps a mysterious girl he finds bleeding on the pavement, his boring life changes in an instant. Her name is Door, she’s on the run from two assassins in black suits and she comes from London Below.

His act of kindness leads him to a place filled with monsters and angels, a Beast in a labyrinth and an Earl who holds Court in a Tube train.

It is strangely familiar yet utterly bizarre.

Thoughts

As with all Neil Gaiman books, I have heard nothing but good things about this novel. And I bought a special edition in a sale because it was illustrated… which always makes me happy. What I didn’t expect was that this would quickly become my favourite Neil Gaiman book. There is just something so wonderful and fantastic about this story… it’s impossible to forget. And, honestly, why would you want to? I think that the world of London Below is the kind of place I’d be happy living in… for about 5 minutes, and then I’d die…

As an adult, there is one question that I keep coming up against… what is life about? What is it that I want out of my life? Richard doesn’t quite know that these are the questions he’s asking himself, but from the very beginning it is obvious that he isn’t quite living the life that he wants to live. He’s completely lost. Kind of untethered and, honestly, enough to pluck at your heartstrings. And then he meets Door and he is thrust into a whole other level of shit. But, one that actually leaves him feeling like there’s something interesting in life. And, honestly, isn’t that all that we each want? SOMETHING in life that makes it worth living?

There are so many wonderfully intense things about the storyline of Neverwhere. But what I love the most is the world that Gaiman has created. It is a little too easy to imagine London Below sitting just beneath our feet everyday. It makes me wonder what the version of this world would be down in Australia. There are so many brilliant little, intricate moments of change and difference that I just can’t even comprehend. So many brilliant little ideas that seem so damn obvious now that I’ve read them… but at the time, seemed completely, ridiculously far-fetched… I just love the dark, twisted world that Gaiman has created. It’s not the sunshine and daisies version of an urban fantasy world that I normally come across in my books…

Neverwhere is one of the most enthralling and astonishing books I’ve read in a while. It’s not one that you can’t put down (for which I was glad, because I don’t want to do nothing all day). But it is one that will stick with me, and whoever reads it for a long time after they turn that final page. It is an amazing journey, a great story and filled with characters that are loveable – even when they’re the villains.

<- The Seven SistersHow the Marquis Got His Coat Back ->

Image source: HarperCollins Publishers

Tastings by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for sirens and other daemon lovers book cover

Title: Tastings
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Smoke and Mirrors (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fantasy, Lust, Twisted romance
Dates read: 25th March 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: EOS
Year: 1998
5th sentence, 74th page: You’re very beautiful.

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Synopsis

A male escort and a famous woman are spending one evening together. But what they want from each other is a little more than anticipated.

Thoughts

Any story that starts off talking about an escort and a famous woman is going to be a little interesting… especially when it’s in a collection such as Sirens and Other Daemon Lovers. Then you just know that there is going to be FAR more to this story that initially assumed… after all, it’s a collection about lust and romance in the shadier sides of the supernatural world.

As soon as I saw that this was a Neil Gaiman short story, I got quite excited. There is just something about his writing that I absolutely adore and it draws me in immediately. I didn’t expect the way that this story would go at all though. To start with a male escort who has the powers of mind reading and then switch that to the woman who then completely turns the tables on him… it was a very different approach. And one that I just completely lapped up. I was actually incredibly disappointed when it was all over. I wanted to keep reading about this incredibly weird sexual couple.

The use of a succubus was kind of expected for the collection that I read this in. But the double use of this power and the different ways in which it was manifested was something of a surprise. It was also intriguing when I’m fairly certain that one of the couple was killed at the end… it’s not outright stated. But that’s how I like to imagine the ending of this story.

<- A Wife of Acorn, Leaf, and RainThe Sweet of Bitter Bark and Burning Clove ->

Image source: Goodreads

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for american gods book cover

Title: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Adventure, Mythology, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 7th – 12th August 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Headline
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: The men said, ‘We are far, far from our homes and our hearths, far from the seas we know and the lands we love.

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Synopsis

IS NOTHING SACRED?

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plant, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

Thoughts

I knew that reading a Neil Gaiman story would be an adventure. This is the third novel that I’ve read by him, and every single time they’re intense, fun and completely off-kilter. The fact that this is my first really adult book by him just made it all the more exciting. And that much easier to just completely devour it. Especially at a time when I was getting a little overwhelmed and upset by everything else going on around me. It was kind of a perfect, twisted, world to float away in.

This is one of those novels that you will pick up nuances again and again as you read it. I spent a lot of the time on this, my first read through, trying to figure out which pantheon many of the old gods were from. Trying to figure out just who Mr. Wednesday was and what his motivations for hiring Shadow were. I didn’t spend as much time intrigued by the new age gods… which I think I will notice more next time.

I had kind of expected a bit of a romantic spin to this story when Shadow focuses on his wife so much at the beginning. It really isn’t even remotely romantic, and the relationship between Shadow and his wife turns a bit… well, weird. And, well, deeply disturbing in parts. Which is of course what I loved about this story – it made me kind of uncomfortable for the majority, and deeply disturbed at other moments. Not just in the storyline – but also with the message and themes that Gaiman is imparting throughout the story. It’s not supposed to be a happily ever after, comfortable story – it’s one that should really make you sit back and think about the choices you make in life, and just what it is that you worship.

American Gods is one of those stories that will stand the test of time. It discusses the battle that everyone must face at some point in their lives – old versus new. Which is better? Which should we worship? Are either of them actually any better than the other? As someone who is fascinated by ancient mythologies, but tends to live solidly in the real world, this is the perfect theme to follow – after all, it’s an internal discussion I often have too.

 <- Adventures in the Dream Trade ReviewAnansi Boys Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for coraline neil gaiman book cover

Title: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Book to Film, Dark fantasy, Easy reading, Horror
Dates read: 16th – 22nd May 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: “The one who says she’s you other mother,” said the cat.

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Synopsis

In Coraline’s family’s new flat there’s a locked door. On the other side is a brick wall – until Coraline unlocks the door… and finds a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only different.

The food is better there. Books have pictures that writhe and crawl and shimmer. And there’s another mother and father there who want Coraline to be their little girl. They want to change her and keep her with them….Forever.

Coraline is an extraordinary fairy tale / nightmare from the uniquely skewed imagination of #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman.

Thoughts

I picked up this book because I absolutely adored the movie. Just seeing the title makes me want to watch the movie again and again and again. Which meant that I was seriously hoping that the book would be just as good. I was a little wrong. For starters, the book is so much creepier and horrifying than the movie. For another thing. It was just better.

I really expected an easy, fun slightly twisted read when I opened this book. After all, it is described as a children’s twisted fairy tale. And it’s a tiny novel! I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I finished this about 10 o’clock at night… and then just lay there, imagining a creepy hand crawling across the bed towards me in my sleep… I’m really not sure that I would have read this when I was a child. And even if I did… I’m not sure that it would have been a great idea. There are certain downfalls to having such a vivid imagination…

As children, we all have moments when we feel that our family just doesn’t care about us. That we belong somewhere else. And that it could just be so much better if we just had someone who understood us more. Or at least, I felt that way frequently throughout my childhood. I like that Coraline plays on this and gives us a reality in which everything is far more fantastic, fun and just plain exciting than the real world. But at a cost, and it’s one that Coraline just doesn’t want to pay. After all, she realises that real life just isn’t too bad after all…

 <- Angels & Visitations ReviewFragile Things Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Snow White, Blood Red edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for snow white, blood red book cover

Title: Snow White, Blood Red
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Susan Wade, Charles de Lint, Gahan Wilson, Nancy Kress, Tanith Lee, Wendy Wheeler, Kathe Koja, Gregory Frost, Elizabeth A. Lynn, Harvey Jacobs, Steve Rasnic Tem, Melanie Tem, Caroline Stevermer, Ryan Edmonds, Neil Gaiman, Leonard Rysdyk, Esther M. Friesner, Jack Dann, Jane Yolen, Patricia A. McKillip & Lisa Goldstein
Series: Adult Fairy Tales #1
In: Snow White, Blood Red (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings,Short story collections
Dates read: 17th December 2018 – 12th April 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: It’ll still mean that I’m willing to let someone die, just so I can have my own way.

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Synopsis

Snow White, Blood Red is a brand new collection of fairy tales. But be warned. It is not a collection for the faint-hearted. Or even one to lull the innocent towards the sleeping realms of dreams. For Snow White, Blood Red is a modern book of wonders: a boundless expanse of nightmares, lusts and fables for the grown-up child in us all.

Through richly imaginative retellings of existing fairy tales, twenty-one of the world’s top fantasy authors recreate the full mythical, magical, mind-bending power of humankind’s oldest fables. Prepare to be seduced by stories that bite – stories that are frightening, erotic, dark and compelling. Because as Terri Windling reminds us in the introduction: ‘Something still stirs inside us when we hear those old, evocative words: Once upon a time.’ Only this time, in this world, there is no happy ending…

Thoughts

I’ve had this book on my wish list for a very, very long time. So, when I finally managed to find a second hand copy and get it delivered to my door, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it. After all, I love fairy tales, I like stories with a dark twist, and I’m fascinated by retellings and the ways in which people are able to twist and turn classic themes to fit a more contemporary or recognisable setting. Which makes this kind of the perfect short story collection to sit on my shelves.

Some of the stories in this collection are kind of dark and twisted. Some are incredibly sexual. And some are just a great, contemporary retelling that makes childish fairy tales far more relatable. I got goosebumps reading some of these stories. While others left a smile on my face. You know it’s a fantastic collection when it takes you through the rollercoaster of emotions and leaves you feeling incredibly happy at the close of the last page.

Anybody who loves fantasy, horror or fairy tales, this is a great collection to add to your shelves. It is one that I won’t be getting out of my head anytime soon, that’s for sure…

<- Taking LoupLike a Red, Red Rose ->

Image source: Amazon

Troll’s-Eye View edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling

Overview
Image result for troll's-eye view book cover

Title: Troll’s-Eye View
Author: Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Wendy Froud, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Peter S. Beagle, Ellen Kushner, Joseph Stanton, Holly Black, Jane Yolen, Nancy Farmer, Michael Cadnum, Catherynne M. Valente, Midori Snyder, Neil Gaiman & Kelly Link
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Retellings, Short story collections, Villains
Dates read: 12th December 2018 – 1st March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: I could have wept.

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Synopsis

Everyone thinks they know the real story behind the villains in fairy tales – evil, no two ways about it. But the villains themselves beg to differ. In this book you’ll hear from:
the Giant’s wife from “Jack and the Beanstalk”
the oldest of the Twelve Dancing Princesses
Rumpelstiltskin
the witch from “Hansel and Gretel”
someone called Evil Cinderella

Just watch these old stories do new tricks!

Thoughts

This is an incredibly easy, fun and engaging short story collection. It takes some brilliant authors who take you on journeys through well known fairy tales. The fact that these retellings all focus on the villains of the stories just made me love it even more. I always love the highlighting of grey areas and alternate tellings.

Troll’s-Eye View is a collection that is written for a very young age group. It’s simple and quaint. Easily accessible and fun. But, that doesn’t mean that as an adult you can’t enjoy it. There was nothing I enjoyed more than sitting down at the end of a long day and reading one of these short stories or poems. It was a great, fun and quick escape from the real world at a time when I’ve been really quite overwhelmed and stressed.

Most of my anthologies and collections contain only novellas and short stories. Troll’s-Eye View also has poems. They were enough to break up the flow throughout the story and leave you with a smile on your face.

 <- Why Light? ReviewWizard’s Apprentice Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Troll Bridge by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for snow white, blood red book cover

Title: Troll Bridge
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Snow White, Blood Red (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Smoke and Mirrors (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Fairy tales, Villains
Dates read: 12th March 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Signet
Year: 1993
5th sentence, 74th page: “She’s an innocent,” it said.

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Synopsis

Promise and hope can quickly become lost in life. It might take the troll bridge for a young boy to finally realise this though.

Thoughts

I loved that this was a retelling of The Billy Goats Gruff, but through the lens of loss. Or, more specifically about a lost future and lost chances. It gave a fairy tale that already feels a little eerie a far more haunting appeal. There was something about a broken down village and an abandoned bridge that made you think of people who are broken and unable to fulfil their dreams and potential.

At the beginning of this tale, I kind of felt for the narrative. I thought that his life would be ended prematurely and that he would be sympathetic. And he was, to begin with… and then he quickly became less and less relatable. Less someone that I wanted a happily ever after for. And more someone that I wanted karma to visit… which it did in a round about way. But, that was enough to make me feel a little more comfortable. And to remind me why I love Neil Gaiman’s writings.

 <- The Springfield Swans ReviewA Sound, Like Angels Singing Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Observing the Formalities by Neil Gaiman

Overview
Image result for troll's-eye view book cover

Title: Observing the Formalities
Author: Neil Gaiman
In: Troll’s-Eye View (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling) & Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Poetry, Retellings, Villains
Dates read: 1st March 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Poem
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Dull, useless things.

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Synopsis

The entire issue with Aurora’s birthday is that no one decided to observe the formalities. And we all know how this story eventually ends…

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this poem. Although Maleficent (or the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty) has always seemed kind of a terrifying villain, she’s also been the one that I relate to the best. Well, maybe not relate to, but understand. After all, she is retaliating against an incredible slight. Plus, there are so many beautiful retellings in the world now which make her seem far less evil, and just… misunderstood.

Which is probably why I love this poem so much. It highlights the faux pas that was made in “observing the formalities”. And instead of feeling like a tale of an evil witch, it is more about someone who really likes the rules. Which an organise freak like me can completely relate to…

 <- Molly ReviewThe Cinderella Game Review ->
Image source: Amazon