Published: February 9, 2010
Number of pages: 339
Genre: short stories, poems, fantasy, supernatural, sci-fi, etc
Rating: older adults
A collection of short stories and poems (31 of them actually) and these are not your children’s stories. From a retelling of Sherlock Holmes and The Study in Scarlet to The Chronicles of Narnia, these are tales scattered in different publications and are compiled into one book.
As you know I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman. What I love about his writing is that it stretches our imagination, taking us to strange new places. He can take a children’s fairy tale and rewrite it with a dark and shocking twist that’s neither provoking but terrifying beautiful. I still remember his retelling of Sleeping Beauty in The Sleeper and the Spindle from Rags & Bones where the character twist and the ending are both sinister and brilliant. His writing is lyrical and whimsy as he tells us dazzling tales with remarkable characters taken from our imagination. If you haven’t read Neil Gaiman and don’t know which book to start, I recommend you begin with Fragile Things as it gives you a taste of the author’s storytelling abilities.
The first story A Study in Emerald is “Sherlock Holmes meets the world of H.P. Lovecraft.” It’s a retelling of Sir Conan Doyle’s A Study n Scarlet with the detective solving a disturbing royal mystery in a strangely altered Victorian England. The story is told in first person with Dr. John Watson as the narrator. I love how Gaiman remains true to the characters including the arrogant Inspector Lestrade, the clever intellectual sleuth, and the story told by his partner, the observant doctor. The ending is my favorite part; to my mind it’s reminiscent of The Scandal of Bohemia. The best remake of Sherlock Holmes short story I’ve had the pleasure to read.
The Problem of Susan is another one of my favorites leaving off from the ending of The Chronicles of Narnia. Gaiman comments how he didn’t like the way Susan’s character was left off after the death of her siblings. So he decided to write a story that is just as problematic and nightmarish than the original children’s story, but still hauntingly beautiful. I also suggest you read the author’s introductions as it tells us how he wrote each of these tales. His poems are just as enjoyable too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t often read poetry.
Neil Gaiman can take fragments of our imagination and pull us through to strange, dark, and spine-chilling worlds with demons, zombies, ghosts, demi-gods, and aliens. I highly recommend this book for all Neil Gaiman fans and for those who haven’t read his works yet, this is a good book to start.
My verdict: 5 hoots out of 5.