Overview: Trigger Warning
Neil Gaiman is a master of modern fairy tales, folk tales, and mythology. All of his signature storytelling conventions are on display in Trigger Warning. Short stories, poems, and love letters showcase the usual Gaiman stand-bys: magical realism, sci-fi, and fantasy.
This collection has more than a few points of interest for people unacquainted with Gaiman. Trigger Warning includes works inspired by David Bowie, Ray Bradbury, and Gaiman’s wife, Amanda Palmer. A Doctor Who story and a Sherlock Holmes story are sure to pique the interest of those fandoms. “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, a lauded reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, is reprinted in this collection, buttressed by stories that also draw on classic princess fairy tales. The final chapter is a new entry in the story of Shadow Moon from Gaiman’s novel American Gods, which is being filmed for television.
Some of the works are more classically modeled on the fairy tales of old while others have a more urban setting. Seemingly everyday tales turn fantastical as the pages turn, some ending benignly and others…not so much. One story reads like an entry in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Others sound like old Scottish folktales. Linking each story together is a sense of magic and unease that draws the reader in.
I’ve been a fan of Gaiman for a while, especially Coraline, Stardust, and American Gods. He has a wonderful way of making you suspect you’re reading a story passed down for years while also being relatable and current. Trigger Warning is no exception. Cursed princesses, hidden corpses, dukes on quests, and fathers seeking justice are tales as old as time. Gaiman uses classic themes and makes them new again. I’ve always been a fan of fairy tales and mythology so I’m a sucker for Gaiman.
There are stories here for people who aren’t so interested in fairy tales. If you like scary stories, sci-fi, and mystery, there’s something in Trigger Warning to spike your interest. As is the issue with most short story collections, not every story will speak to you. I struggled through a few chapters which made me take a little too long to finish the book. But, once you’ve read a short story collection, you can always dog-ear your favorites and skip the stories you didn’t like on subsequent readings.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Time Lords