I realized, as I was writing this review, that I have reviewed Black and Gaiman together before now. Their work is so different, but it feels like 2 sides of the same coin in many ways. Gaiman writes mostly for adults, Black for YA. Gaiman deals in myth, Black in fairy tale. The books are filled with the weird and the strange. And those weird, strange things often take place in the modern age. It was an accident that I’m putting them together this time. They’re the only 2 non-fiction books that I haven’t reviewed yet. It seemed right to do them together at the same time. So here we are, with the books fulfilling the “a book that will be a complete mindfuck” and “a book you bought long ago but still haven’t read” categories for the reading challenge.
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman:
I should probably couch this review by saying that I mostly don’t enjoy short stories. Or, rather, that there is a celebrated type of short story that I loathe, full of beautiful words and terrible happenings that brings me more unsettled upset than entertainment. It’s a staple of the genre. But I love Gaiman, and I have read all his novels already. Some multiple times. Also, his work is always a mindfuck. It’s strange in ways that are completely right yet unexpected.
I enjoyed Fragile Things and I didn’t, in about equal measure. A Study in Emerald is worth the price of the whole thing, I enjoyed it so much. I think anyone with a penchant for Doyle would. But there were others in there that just made me rather horrified. They were all so hit and miss that it’s impossible to go through and say worth it/skip of each, which I would have to do. And to be honest, if you can find Emerald not in this book, that’s the route I would go with. For me, the joy wasn’t worth the pain. The quality of the work is amazing, the subject matter was not often my cup of tea.
Looking for something Gaiman to read? American Gods, The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Stardust are all good options. Looking for something new of Gaiman’s to read? He just came out with a non-fiction book of essays “The View From the Cheap Seats,” which I hear is good (although I haven’t gotten around to it yet).
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black:
Every time I read Holly Black, I remind myself that I need to read more Holly Black. I don’t know why she doesn’t come to mind as an immediate “yes” author to me. Everything I have read of hers has been joyfully frightening, fascinatingly horrifying. This one is about a modern town on the edge of faerie. There is a horned prince in the forest, sleeping in a glass coffin, and then he goes missing. And then people start dying.
It’s all the things I loved about the Tithe world with a more epic heroine to balance out the story. There are several things in the genre that are always a YES for me (almost irrespective of content). Fae, love stories, and women with swords are a few of those, which this book has in spades. I loved it. It made me want to buy Valliant immediately, and then re-read Coldest Girl in Cold Town.
I bought this book almost a year ago. I don’t know what made me linger in reading it. I lingered with Gaiman’s Ocean, though, too. I think perhaps it’s because I know I’m going to love it so much and I only get to read it for the first time once, that I feel the need to savor it as much as possible. Or maybe it’s a fear of ultimately not liking something I’m looking forward to so much. Both Black and Gaiman always deliver, though. I should remember that more.
The final verdict on Darkest Part of the Forest is go buy it now.