Book Club Reviews: Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

On Monday, we had our first book club meeting of the new year (and our official 2 year anniversary meeting!), and we read Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors.

Book Title: Smoke and Mirrors
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publication Date: 1998
Genres: Adult Fiction, Short Stories
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 Stars 
Book Club Rating: 4 Stars

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman’s imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.

1. The writing. Neil Gaiman is a master with words, and Smoke and Mirrors definitely corroborated that. His use of subtle sarcasm and situational irony is definitely what drives most of the stories and makes them seem even more outlandish because, even though you KNOW that this just is way out of left field, the characters react like it’s nothing. (English teacher tip: That’s masterful situational irony.)

2. The introduction. Most of us read a version of Smoke and Mirrors that had an AMAZING introduction. In the introduction, Gaiman has a short story tucked away that was a unanimous favorite. Also, he includes background to why he wrote each short story, which we found kind of fascinating to read after reading the story.

3. The concept. All in all, the play on fairytales and whimsy was what kept our attention. We wanted to see how Gaiman would play out the troll under the bridge (which still has me thinking…) or the holy grail concept. It was really, really neat (and a little unsettling, in a Grimm Brothers sort of way).

1. The creepy? Honestly, there wasn’t much that we said we didn’t like. Some of the stories were weird and uncomfortable, but that’s Neil Gaiman’s writing style. He tries to make you uncomfortable. Generally, the creepy weird factor as the only problem that some of us had with the book, especially when it came to some of the more familiar fairy tales.

This is a good book to keep in your purse. It has some short (like.. 100 words short) stories and some longer ones, and they would be great to fill any spaces when you need a little something to do.

2 thoughts on “Book Club Reviews: Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

  1. I am not normally a fan of short stories, but this sounds like a book to check out. What other short stories books do you recommend?


  2. Sadly, I haven't read many. I love reading short stories, but I usually find them by authors like Hemingway and Kate Chopin on their own. Hemingway's “Snows of Kilimanjaro”, Chopin's “Story of an Hour”, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman “The Yellow Wall-Paper” are my favorites!


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