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A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night. …

In a Hugo Award–winning story, a great detective must solve a most unsettling royal murder in a strangely altered Victorian England. …

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares. …

These marvelous creations and more showcase the unparalleled invention and storytelling brilliance—as well as the terrifyingly dark and entertaining sense of humor—of the incomparable Neil Gaiman. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most original writers of our time.

Topics: Ghosts, London, Boston, New Orleans, Short stories, Anthology, Retellings, Dark, Mystical, Mythology, Writing, Dreams, Cthulhu Mythos, Poetry, Gothic, Tarot, Death, Monsters, Animals, Music, Circus, Magical Realism, and British Author

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061804168
List price: $6.99
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I'm usually not a fan of short stories, but I read this collection while working out and the shorter format allowed many convenient stopping points. As with many short story collections, some were definitely better than others. "A Study in Emerald" is simply fantastic - the worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft combined! I also really liked "October in the Chair". I'm not sure why, but I've always liked personification of calendars. Growing up, my favorite story from my Hans Christian Andersen treasury was The Days of the Week. The end of "Closing Time" gave me shivers. This book took my awhile to read because it was my gym book and I'm lazy, but I ended up reading "Harlequin Valentine" on February 12th - I absolutely loved it! It's so gory and great :)On the other side - oh what a mess "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" was. I didn't get it. "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is overrated I think. Maybe because it's the one I've seen referred to most that it seemed a little ho hum to me.The others were somewhere in the middle: Sunbird was better than mediocre and the American Gods novella "Monarch of the Glen" was good, but I didn't like the ending.PS I skipped all the poems. I really don't like poetry.All in all, it was good. But there are definitely skippable parts.more
Neil Gaiman is wonderful at short stories. I do prefer Smoke & Mirrors to this one, though -- these didn't stick in my head like those first ones do.more
I love Neil Gaiman, but I just don't like his short stories that much. Actually, I don't like short stories in general very much.more
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Reviews

I'm usually not a fan of short stories, but I read this collection while working out and the shorter format allowed many convenient stopping points. As with many short story collections, some were definitely better than others. "A Study in Emerald" is simply fantastic - the worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft combined! I also really liked "October in the Chair". I'm not sure why, but I've always liked personification of calendars. Growing up, my favorite story from my Hans Christian Andersen treasury was The Days of the Week. The end of "Closing Time" gave me shivers. This book took my awhile to read because it was my gym book and I'm lazy, but I ended up reading "Harlequin Valentine" on February 12th - I absolutely loved it! It's so gory and great :)On the other side - oh what a mess "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" was. I didn't get it. "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is overrated I think. Maybe because it's the one I've seen referred to most that it seemed a little ho hum to me.The others were somewhere in the middle: Sunbird was better than mediocre and the American Gods novella "Monarch of the Glen" was good, but I didn't like the ending.PS I skipped all the poems. I really don't like poetry.All in all, it was good. But there are definitely skippable parts.more
Neil Gaiman is wonderful at short stories. I do prefer Smoke & Mirrors to this one, though -- these didn't stick in my head like those first ones do.more
I love Neil Gaiman, but I just don't like his short stories that much. Actually, I don't like short stories in general very much.more
In an episode of Arthur, one of the characters, Sue-Ellen, meets Neil Gaiman and embarks on creating her own graphic novel.* At the beginning of the clip, she says, “He writes novels and comics and movies and poetry—is there ANYTHING Neil Gaiman DOESN’T write?” (To which he replies, “Well, I never wrote a cookbook.” Bless.) That kind of sums up my attitude toward his work: He can write anything and does it well.

Fragile Things, in my opinion, is the better of the two short collections that I’ve read. There’s more of my favorite pieces in this collection rather than Smoke & Mirrors, as well as more of a diverse range of genres, from horror to humor to fantasy to the realistic.

I won’t go through every single piece in the collection, but here are the highlights. “Forbidden Brides…” is my hands-down favorite short story in this, a pastiche on gothic horror conventions and their utter ridiculousness. I have a lot fun reading it and seeing all of the jabs at classic gothic literature. Similar is “Sunbird,” although the story begins with more humor and leaves with a slightly darker turn at the end. “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is another one that I feel sums up Gaiman’s work—light enough to be funny at parties, but with a creeping sense of darkness and horror. “Feeders and Eaters” is an outright horror story that does stay with me after I finished it. The only stories I’m not as fond of are “Pages from a Journal” and “The Problem with Susan.” I’m not familiar with Tori Amos’s The Scarlet Walk, so I don’t get a lot of “Pages from a Journal.” And then there’s “Problem with Susan,” which on its own, is a good study of what happened to Narnia’s Susan years after The Last Battle. And then we get to the flashback/dream sequences and my childhood sits in a corner, sobbing. (I’ll touch on “Monarch of the Glen” in my American Gods review.)

This also has some of his better poems. I debated on purchasing the standalone edition of “Instructions,” since it’s just so beautifully written (and the accompanying illustrations of that book were wonderful). I also really enjoy reading “The Day the Saucers Came” and “Inventing Aladdin.”

This is a great little collection. I don’t really recommend it for most people starting with Neil Gaiman (unless if they’re looking for horror, then I push it), but it’s highly enjoyable and showcases the man’s many talents.

*Yes, I unashamedly watch children’s television.
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As with any collection (especially one that collects so many short pieces), some hits, some misses.

There are a few pieces in here (maybe 6 or 7) that I've encountered recently in other collections--at least one or two from his M is for Magic collection for teens, and a few from other anthologies and magazines I've picked up. I honestly don't remember where I've seen them before, but it did give an eerie deja vu from time to time.

Maybe not the strongest collection in the world (and might be helped, actually, by leaving some of these out, or releasing it as two different books), but even at its worst it was still pretty enjoyable.more
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