I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan, in case its escaped anyone’s notice. With the exception of Anansi Boys I think all his novels are superb (and Ocean at the End of the Lane was one of my favourites of 2013.) Accordingly, I was quite excited when Trigger Warning popped up on the shelves without my having remembered it was being released, and I sped through it in a few days.
I’ll start gently: the highlights.
A Lunar Labyrinth is an illusory, elegant story told beautifully; The Thing About Cassandra is a deft little story about an imaginary girlfriend who appears to have forgotten how to be imaginary which is thoroughly entertaining and oddly poignant; The Case of Death and Honey is Gaiman’s second Sherlock Holmes story which is well-characterised and an absorbing version of what the winter years of Holmes might have been like; Click-Clack The Rattle-Bag is, in short, creepy as fuck; An Invocation of Incuriosity is a great sci-fi story, Nothing O’Clock is a perfect fusion of the twin styles of Gaiman and Doctor Who, and finally, Black Dog is a return to the Shadow from American Gods which is a nasty little horror story that’s the finest of the collection.
For all that I’ve picked out seven highlights, I’m hard pressed to say much else positive about this collection though. Love Gaiman as I do, the rest of the stories and poems feel rather fragmentary and lacklustre; or in fact, practised. The collection feels a bit like Gaiman’s got quite good at doing Gaiman, and whilst it might not always be easy to find an obvious flaw with a story, the whole book as a collection doesn’t strike home like his previous two did. And I have a sneaking suspicion that another author with less fame and sales reliability might have had the collection a little more rigorously edited. It might be personal taste however; the two ‘headline’ stories in the book, The Truth Is A Cave On A Dark Mountain and The Sleeper and the Spindle, both of which are universally acclaimed and exist in individual editions, I completely failed to find engaging in any way. I still think the man’s brilliant though; if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t find Trigger Warning quite such a disappointment.