Book Review: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

Book Review: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil GaimanTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Supernatural
Pages: 310

Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things--which includes a never-before published American Gods story, "Black Dog," written exclusively for this volume.
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction--stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013--as well "Black Dog," a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In "Adventure Story"--a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane--Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience "A Calendar of Tales" are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year--stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother's Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale "The Case of Death and Honey". And "Click-Clack the Rattlebag" explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we're all alone in the darkness.
A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

Thank you to Edleweiss and William Morrow & Co. for the E-ARC in return for an honest review.

A general truth that must be known about me is that I am a super fan when it comes to Neil Gaiman. I consider myself a true Gaimanite. I love the way he conjures up a story and bottles it up into something “bookshaped”. I love the sense of wonder you are left with after reading one of his books. I love the way his stories suck you right in and you will willingly dive deeper into the ocean of his words, even if you fear you might not make it up for air. I would gladly drown to keep on reading everything he writes.

Hanging out with Neil Gaiman at his Garden Party. Cambridge, MA May 2013
Hanging out with Neil Gaiman at his Garden Party.
Cambridge, MA
May 2013

Trigger Warning is Neil’s third book of short stories (I have read the two previous ones multiple times). The title refers to a label that is applies to certain types of things to warn of potentially disturbing content. I love that the book begins with Neil explaining each of the 24 tales in the book, and his thoughts about them. I think this is one of my favorite parts, because it allows some insight into Neil’s brain.

Just like all his previous works, and especially his short stories Trigger Warning does not disappoint. Do these tale need a “trigger warning”? Maybe for some of the tales this applies, definitely for at least one that will probably disturb just about anyone. What’s different is that you get a variety of subjects/genres in one book. It’s not all just fantasy, or just romance, or just scary stories. It has a little bit of everything, even a giant tentacle. My favorites ended up being:

  • Click-Clack the Rattlebag- A young man is babysitting his girlfriend’s little brother, who tells him about the Click-Clack.
    This one was deliciously creepy.

  • The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury- About a man missing chucks of his memory can remember his favorite stories but not the name of the author. What I love about this tale is that it’s sort of a “love letter” to one of Neil’s personal favorite author- Mr. Ray Bradbury. It is a really good story about how time and memory treat literature. How many great stories and authors fall between the cracks and are forgotten? It brings to light how important it is to keep passing along stories and authors that might not be known by all to other friends so that their stories and their memory will live on and endure. It is also a beautiful tribute to Mr. Bradbury.

  • A Calender of Tales- Twelve tales within a tale, each set in a specific month. I just adored finally hearing the November part of the story (it being my birth month). I love how Gaiman makes everything feel more magical. I love how he induces the reader’s imagination to keep looking for the fantastical and unique within the story and themselves. 

  • My Last Landlady– A young man staying at a B&B….or so that’s how it starts.

    I loved how wonderfully dark this one is. It reels you in and then WHACK! It’s got you. It made me a bit scared of staying at B&Bs…especially, by the sea.

  • The Thing about Cassandra – About an artist and his encounter with the ex-girlfriend he had “made-up” many years ago in his youth. Loved that Neil was able to catch me completely off guard with this tale. Just love the twists,

  • Feminine Endings-About a girl and a “living” statue…

    This one is bound to make most people who read it feel uneasy and freaked out. There is nothing fantastical or fairy-tale in this story, it makes it feel more real. This could actually happen, and that is one of the reasons it is so disturbing.

  • The Sleeper and the Spindle– a retelling of Sleeping Beauty

    I love fairy tales and all that comes with them. This is a wonderful, and haunting twist to the original tale. Definitely one of Neil’s best.


I really enjoyed reading the tales in this book. I wanted to take my time and really sink deep into the stories.  I wanted to feel them in my bones. I was entertained and disturbed. Some of the stories I didn’t have super strong feelings about, but there were so many I loved that it balanced it out. After all, not all stories affect everyone the same. This is why I love short stories because you can just go from one story you might not like too much to another that better suited to you. I did not have too many moments like that and overall loved being creeped out and haunted by these tales. I would definitely recommend this to anyone searching for dark and strange tales as well as for all fans of the ever so talented Mr. Neil Gaiman.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**