The final book in my Neil Gaiman binge is M is for Magic, a YA book of short stories. All of the stories have some sort of fairy tale or supernatural element in them, trolls, ghosts, witches, the Devil. The holy grail even makes an appearance as do some alien life forms. The stories range across the board, but what they all have in common is a matter-of-fact tone and tell it like it is style that I found very appealing and well suited to the stories.
Most of the protagonists are boys in their pre to early teen years. You’d think this would mean lots of gore or at least gross things but that is not the case. These stories are more of the in your head sort with the occasional chill running down the spine.
My favorite story in the book is called “The Price” and it made me cry. It is about a family that lives in a house just outside of town and always ends up taking in stray cats that the city people brig out and dump. One day a black cat arrives, adopts the family, and soon they notice in the mornings the cat is scratched and looking like its been in a fight. This goes on and on, the cat getting progressively more and more beat up. I’ll say no more except when you find out what the cat is doing, it rivals any loyal dog story you can think of so have the tissues handy!
The story I like second best is called “October in the Chair” and has the months sitting around a campfire at their er–monthly–meeting, bickering over procedure and finally getting down to the purpose of sitting around the campfire: telling stories. October, who is chairing the meeting, tells a good one full of tension and foreboding with an edge of sadness. And at the end of it I found I had been holding my breath.
I’ve never read any Neil Gaiman short stories before and these are all marvelous. The intended audience is probably the 10-13 year-old set but they are so clever that anyone can enjoy them, except I wouldn’t recommend them for the under 9’s you’ll find yourself having to explain everything or providing comfort after a nightmare.
That’s three for the RIP Challenge. Woo! And hopefully in a week or so I’ll be digging into a Wilkie Collins for the first time. Don’t know which one yet though.