Book Review for Trigger Warning
13 Apr 2015
I will begin this review with the unapologetic and unabashed admission that I am a die-hard Neil Gaiman fan. I cannot imagine a world in which I do not enjoy every word that Neil Gaiman has written. Gaiman, as the author of everything from children’s books to horror to graphic novels, is frequently lauded as one of the most influential living authors. He has morphed every genre in which he has been published, accumulating a Twitter and social media following that rivals many Pop Stars’ along the way.
Gaiman’s style is defined by a Dickensonian love of language and an imagination capable of prying open the cracks in our world and painting vibrant pictures of what lies just beyond our sight. Gaiman reflects on his title in his Introduction, saying, “I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places?” In these pages Gaiman may bring nightmares you didn’t even know you had to life, painting your fears with ink and words, adding new monsters to those already hiding under your bed. However, like much good speculative fiction and fantasy, each story acts as a reflection on human nature: What makes us tick? What makes us cringe? What are our dreams?
In his introduction Gaiman apologizes (unnecessarily) for having compiled a book of poetry and short fictions that do not share a common theme. The lack of a common theme in Trigger Warning is not a negative, but instead a positive, allowing the reader to thumb through its pages, picking out stories that suit their fancy. Featuring everything from murderers to monsters, living statues to Sherlock Holmes to David Bowie, these stories stretch the imagination. They will make you think about what exists between the cracks in time, the nature of love, and rethink your favorite fairy tales.
One of the most enjoyable tales awaiting the reader is The Sleeper and the Spindle, a dark reimagining of the Beauty and the Beast tale. Gaiman takes the reader into a world where princesses fight, lead, and even kiss other princesses to awaken them from dark curses. In Making a Chair he muses on the prevalence of procrastination among creators, and the unique tendency of humans to do everything except that which is most important. In “Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” and Relig Odhrain the reader is taken back in time to the British Isles, to times of superstition, expansion, and adventure.
Gaiman says it best himself. “There are things in this books, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here… There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings” If you enjoy stories that include just the right amount of strange, then Trigger Warning is certainly for you.