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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 54.
- Review Date: 2007-07-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Taking both inspiration and naming convention from Ray Bradbury’s R Is for Rocket and S Is for Space, Gaiman’s first YA anthology is a fine collection of previously published short stories. Although Gaiman’s prose skill has improved markedly since the earliest stories included here, one constant is his stellar imagination, not to mention his knack for finding unexpected room for exploration in conventional story motifs. Jill Dumpty, sister of the late Humpty, hires a hard-boiled detective to look into her brother’s tragic fall; the 12 months of the year sit around in a circle, telling each other stories about the things they’ve seen; an elderly woman finds the Holy Grail in a flea market and takes it home because of how nice it will look on her mantelpiece. Collectors will be pleased to note the inclusion of several stories that were previously published in the now-hard-to-find collection Angels & Visitations. Also of note is fan favorite “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” which has been nominated for a Hugo Award for 2007. Though Gaiman is still best known for his groundbreaking Sandman comic book epic, this volume is an excellent reminder of his considerable talent for short-form prose. Ages 10-up. (July)
Gaiman's haunting new collection
Best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman has become a household name to fans of the genre, with books and graphic novels such as The Sandman, Coraline and Anansi Boys. As a child, Gaiman found that short stories were ideally suited to how he read, offering potent mouthfuls of other worlds, just the right size to be swallowed whole before lights-out. Another benefit of story collections is their diversityif one tale doesn't suit, the reader can always skip ahead to the next. Both of these elements make Gaiman's inventive new collection, M Is for Magic, a particularly good choice for summer reading.
One of my favorite stories is "Chivalry," in which an elderly widow purchases the Holy Grail from her neighborhood thrift shop. An errant knight appears and attempts to win the Grail from her, only to be put to work on delightfully mundane tasks, his offers staunchly refused. A favorite of a different sort, "The Price" leaves readers with an unsettled chill. A devoted rescuer-of-cats learns that a favorite stray is actually rescuing him, fighting a losing battle with the devil, who is stalking the narrator's family. And then there's the dreamy, utterly terrifying "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," where two would-be Romeos crash the wrong party in search of some action and end up angering a universe.
"Horror stays with you hardest," Gaiman says; "Fantasy gets into your bones." Stories can terrify or entrancein M Is for Magic, they do both at once.