Book Review: Stories: All-New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman

November 18, 2021

Details from Audible:

Publisher's Summary

Stories is a groundbreaking anthology that reinvigorates, expands, and redefines the limits of imaginative fiction and affords some of the best writers in the world—from Peter Straub and Chuck Palahniuk to Roddy Doyle and Diana Wynne Jones, Stewart O'Nan and Joyce Carol Oates to Walter Mosley and Jodi Picoult—the opportunity to work together, defend their craft, and realign misconceptions. Neal Gaiman, a literary magician whose acclaimed work defies easy categorization and transcends all boundaries, and "master anthologist" (Booklist) Al Sarrantonio personally invited, read, and selected all the stories in this collection, and their standard for this "new literature of the imagination" is high. "We wanted to read stories that used a lightning-flash of magic as a way of showing us something we have already seen a thousand times as if we have never seen it at all.”

Joe Hill boldly aligns theme and form in his disturbing tale of a man's descent into evil in "Devil on the Staircase”. In "Catch and Release", Lawrence Block tells of a seasoned fisherman with a talent for catching a bite of another sort. Carolyn Parkhurst adds a dark twist to sibling rivalry in "Unwell”. Joanne Harris weaves a tale of ancient gods in modern New York in "Wildfire in Manhattan”. Vengeance is the heart of Richard Adams's "The Knife”. Jeffery Deaver introduces a dedicated psychologist whose mission in life is to save people in "The Therapist”. A chilling punishment befitting an unspeakable crime is at the dark heart of Neil Gaiman's novelette "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains”.

As it transforms your view of the world, this brilliant and visionary volume—sure to become a classic—will ignite a new appreciation for the limitless realm of exceptional fiction.

©2010 Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers


Initial Thoughts:

As I've said before I built up a bunch of credits on Audible. I enjoy short stories very much and this one got good reviews (and had stories by Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill) so I decided to get it.

Main Points:

I used to do a book review on a short-story collection and talk about every story in it, I won't do that here! It just makes the review too long (and too much work for me). Instead, I'll just give my overall thoughts and talk about a couple of stories that stood out. 

“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”  by Gaiman is an excellent story. Full of myth and folklore. The story was very well written and I was enthralled the whole time, it was the kind of story I didn't want to end but ended perfectly. To get back to the general, what I really enjoyed about this collection is the sheer variety of tales. We have ones that involve truly fantastical elements and creatures, two had vampires (which I'll talk about a little later), another is just about two brothers and how different they are, while another deals with murder, the devil, and his son.

The voicework was excellent and was glad that for a few stories it was the same person reading them. All that said I did not love every story, some were way too short (to the point of almost nothing happened) and others just didn't hold my interest at all. One of the stories I really loved was “Juvenal Nyx” by Walter Mosley, this was a unique take on vampires (which is not easy to do! I should know after writing 4 vampire books) and I really loved it. That day while I was listening in the car I was tired, had wasted time driving to a spot where I couldn't do a delivery (work-related and no one was home) and I was in a bad mood. I put on that story and within 10 minutes I was smiling and happy.

I have to comment on the Joe Hill story. It was excellent and did not go the way I expected it to, I loved how it got connected to history at the end and of course, I feel something of a connection to his stories after meeting him at a convention. Very well written, in a different setting, and had some great characters and some genuinely creepy scenes.

Final Thoughts:

Overall a good collection of short stories. Some are excellent, others good, some just ok and a couple are crappy (or maybe just not to my taste). I did think some stories were also a little too long (almost novellas) and the collection itself could have been cut down. Overall I give it a 7.5 out of 10. Some stories can be skipped, others savored and others just provide light entertainment, either way I would recommend this collection to any short-story fan who doesn't mind a wide selection of genres and some adult material (including some sex, violence, gore, and coarse language), ages 16+, not suitable for children. Nice to finally get a book review in and If you're reading this today I hope you're having a good Thanksgiving weekend!