After falling in love with Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors, Neil Gaiman finally comes up with another equally tantalizing, albeit slightly neurotic short stories to fill my Sunday morning with. Now, there’s nothing more disturbing than the terrifying premise of Babycakes (from Smoke and Mirrors) but Down to the Sunless Sea (page 34) has a similar scenario that you may want to get a barf bag or a tissue… or both. It invokes a disgustingly large amount of grief and disturbing notions of innocence devoured by reality. Brilliantly written and probably one of my favorites in this book.
Other favorites of the collection include:
The Sleeper and the Spindle (page 231, which is the reason I bought this book) comes off as a feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty which is unlike his other gruesome tale, Snow, Glass and Apples (from Smoke and Mirrors).
Orange (page 76) is an absurd tale detailing an episode in which the girl’s sister was turned into an orange blob of light and taken by aliens. It is entirely written in a form of answers to a questionnaire from a top secret government. Highly experimental structure with positive results.
It’s also refreshing to see his take on the classic Sherlock Holmes in The Case of Death and Honey (page 115). Adventure Story (page 73) delights me with its quirky character called mother who has a warped sense of adventure… and there’s nothing better than imagining Matt Smith as Doctor Who while reading Nothing O’Clock (page 175).
Like most Neil Gaiman tales, everything deserves a second read if only to understand the nuances hidden between his seemingly pointless garbled symbolism. Suffice to say I did not enjoy all of the stories. Some of them required more effort than most, but the magic and the weirdness makes it worth it.