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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
By Andrada Dervesteanu 6 min read
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Book title: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Author: Neil Gaiman

This book was one of those who made it to my to-read list for 2015, made based on a very popular list and chosen for the category “A book of short stories”. I was not acquainted with Gaiman’s style at the time because I had only read one other book written by him, which happens to be a children’s book (Odd and the Frost Giants, which incidentally I enjoyed very much), but I must say that after reading multiple reviews and browsing through the awards and the words best-seller& co my expectations were pretty high.

“The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mold beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The Universe is amply supplied with night.”

The beginning was mostly entertaining, and by that I refer to the introduction which like no other introduction before (I usually don’t even read those but I said to myself “let’s give it a try”) has really spoken to me. And just because of that I’m going to insert here one of the quotes I appreciated most: “And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way.” Through this simple quote I felt that Gaiman is talking to me directly and somehow reading my thoughts regarding what I expect of books and delivering the needed words on a fresh tray. So, you can only imagine that my sky rate expectations were even higher after this.

In addition to all this the introduction also offers you a short section in which all the stories are presented, giving you a clue about what you’re going to read; which seemed like a very inspiring move to me.

Moving forward to the book itself I shall try not to disclose too many plot twists or occurrences which may disturb the future reader. It is very hard not to judge each story by itself and not to write a review for each one of them, but as they are all in the same book I tried as much as possible to view them together, as a whole, and grade the book, not the stories taken apart from the book.

All through the stories I felt like the author is trying to explore some unknown parts of his mind and by this is trying to make me, the reader, discover some of mine. As if something darker was hidden in each one of us and through some of these stories (each of the stories can touch each of us in a different way) he was trying to bring that dark side to the surface. I consider this a very smart idea and approach and somehow I feel like it is something that I haven’t experienced with any other book before. So, as far as originality goes, I believe that this is top notch.

“What we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: enter at your own risk. We need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.”

Overall there were some stories that I enjoyed, many that I can say I didn’t understand completely and few which I enjoyed deeply. Those I didn’t understand completely, and obviously didn’t really enjoy, somehow felt forced and rushed in my opinion; there was always an abstract meaning and a lesson underneath them, but sometimes the author would just get lost in all the details and in the action itself, and so the outcome of the story would be compromised; which I consider a downside. Some of the stories I enjoyed were written after a well-known pattern (at least for me) in a Lovecraftian or a Arthur Conan Doyle style; these stories were interesting, but I didn’t quite feel the thrill or the horror or the rush of fear when reading them, and again, this disappointed me a little.

And last but not least, there was this story that I enjoyed most. I am going to be a bit of a spoiler and tell you a little bit about it. It’s name is “Nothing O’clock” and it is a Doctor Who spin-off which focuses on a race of aliens that can somehow multiply through time causing the Doctor and his help some problems. The story was nicely built, felt very real and managed to make me feel as if I were in the Doctor Who universe, biting my nails to see if the Doctor can fix this one.

“This is what they say: Secure your own mask before helping others. And I think of us, all the people, and the masks we wear, the masks we hide behind and the masks that reveal. I imagine people pretending to be what they truly are, and discovering that other people are so much more and so much less than they imagined themselves to be or present themselves as. And then, I think about the need to help others, and how we mask ourselves to do it, and how unmasking makes us vulnerable…”


Now, after finishing the book and after I have analyzed it, I can say I would recommend you to read it, mostly because I think that overall it is an interesting collection of stories and even if it has its downfalls I am sure that at least one of the stories will speak to you and make you think of things you haven’t though of in a while or of things you didn’t even know that are there. It is some sort of “finding something new within yourself” journey.

Overall rating: 3 stars
Goodreads link: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

Fantasy Fiction Horror Neil Gaiman Short Stories

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