Dear Neil Gaiman:
I bought your anthology Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions back in 2013. Sometime after (I think), I bought another anthology where you contributed one tale. Your first work that I read was The Graveyard Book and I have come to treasure it. I have yet to have my own copy of Coraline and Stardust, which I am reminded of every time I watch those movies.
Anthologies have a special place with me and my shelf. I think I have about five or seven of them. But yours is the only one made by one author. I knew I’d be in for a treat when I read it. And it was!
Just the introduction alone was a surprise. I’m glad I read the introduction. I think the only introductions that I don’t read are from math and science textbooks and other academic literature. Cannot remember why I practice it though. But introductions have brought me insight I would have lost had I skipped reading those first pages. (And if anyone else is reading this, I will not spoil the contents of that introduction.)
Chivalry was just beautiful. I have seen a number of movies and even one cartoon series devoted to time travel to Arthurian period. But this is the first time that the past canters to the present. Mrs. Whitaker and Galaad were nice, even funny to a point. Marie reminds me of one of the actresses from Stranger Things.
Nicholas Was… is the most curious in the collection. Probably even the shortest one—although I am not sure about the word count. It took me less than a minute to read it, but a whole night just imagining it then asking myself questions but frustrating myself because there were no answers.
Troll Bridge felt poignant. It’s a refreshing take on the troll element. Can’t help but wonder if all those trolls under all those bridges from all those tales were just like the one in yours. Also, I have questions about the original troll. The Gold Fish Pool and Other Stories had a similar effect but to a lesser degree. The one that made me the saddest was Queen of Knives. Flashes of the movie The Prestige appeared in my head while I read it.
Don’t Ask Jack is deliciously dark. Too bad it was short. I wanted more of it. The length of We Can Get Them for You Wholesale was nice. Great dark comedy.
The Daughter of Owls was difficult to read, literally. The variation of spelling was tolerable. It was the superscript that bothered me. I fail to see the point of using it.
Mouse somehow reminded me of Animal Farm by George Orwell. I know they are not similar but it just does. I can barely explain why it does.
Babycakes was deeply disturbing. Thankfully, it’s short. But its effect on me was quite long. While I could imagine a future like that, I prefer not to. It made me feel so uncomfortable. I do have questions, but there are some things that are best left unasked.
Snow, Glass, Apples was the perfect note to end your song. I love how you reimagined the timeless tale.
Thank you so much for coming out with that beautiful collection.