“I firmly believe that short-story collections should be the same sort of thing all the way through. They should not, hodgepodge and willy-nilly, assemble stories that were obviously not intended to sit between the same overs. They should not in short, contain horror and ghost stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry, all in the same place. They should be respectable.
This collection fails this test.”
-Neil Gaiman, Trigger Warning, xvi
Short story collections are one category of book that I wish I read more often. I always enjoy them, but never pick them up. Since I’m obsessed with Neil Gaiman, however, this short story collection has been on my radar for a while. These stories did not disappoint.
The best story in this collection is “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” but I know I will be thinking about a lot of these stories for a long time. Black Dog even includes Shadow, the protagonist from American Gods. I really appreciated the foreword where Neil describes the process of creating each of the stories. “The Truth is a Cafe in the Black Mountains” came about as part of an anthology of stories with a science-fiction or fantasy edge. Gaiman got the idea surrounding this story in a story by Otta F. Swire about a cave near the Isle of Skye that was filled with gold. If you were brave enough to enter, you could take all the gold you could carry, but each time you enter the cave, you lose a bit of your soul. Gaiman says “that cave, and its promise, began to haunt me.”
“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” tells the story of a man brave enough to enter the cave and what he discovers inside. There is even a great surprising twist in the end. I also loved the story about Doctor Who, titled “Nothing O’Clock” and the story about a missing sailor titled “Down to a Sunless Sea.” “Down to a Sunless Sea” is literally two pages but Gaiman somehow creates a realistic, haunting world in those two pages.
I would highly recommend this collection to any Gaiman fans, any fans of science fiction, any horror fans and any fantasy fans.