Filled with fantastical fairy tales that each have their own darkness writhing beneath the surface (or out in the open), Trigger Warning is intended to remind us of the dark things in our pasts that haunt us; to remind us that we will never fully forget, that we will wake up at 3 a.m. panicked over what people will think of what we’ve done. Gaiman even warns us that this is what his stories will do to you, they serve as triggers for what we hide from ourselves:
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
“And what we learn about ourselves in those moments, where the trigger has been squeezed, is this: the past is not dead. There are things that wait for us, patiently, in the dark corridors of our lives. We think we have moved on, put them out of mind, left them to desiccate and shrivel and blow away; but we are wrong. They have been waiting there in the darkness, working out, practicing their most vicious blows, their sharp hard thoughtless punches into the gut, killing time until we came back that way” (p. xi).
But the thing is, these memories are always part of us. How we survive those parts of our pasts is another truth Gaiman imparts to us in this collection of short stories you have to read right now!
The stories range from revisiting old characters (Shadow from American Gods as well as Gaiman’s interpretations of Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor and Amy Pond from the Doctor Who television series) to shockingly rewritten fairy tales and stories that leave you unsettled in the exact right amount.
I loved most of the stories. “The Black Dog” which featured the return of American’s God‘s Shadow, whose encounter in a small English town reminded one of Hound of Baskervilles. Then there was “A Calendar of Tales,” which is a meta short story, composed of 12 short stories that evoke the atmosphere of the month in which they take place. Finally, my favorite was likely “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” which told a tale of greed, murder and revenge.
But there are so many great stories, it’s hard to pick one. As I was scanning the titles, I remembered each unsettling story and found it hard to say one was better than another. I myself needed to set the book aside for a moment at the conclusion of each, giving my brain a chance to process their twists and turns.
A good short story book will entertain without bogging you down. An excellent collection of short stories will be filled with tales that each stick with you and force you to ponder the secrets and terrors you may be hiding from yourself. Trigger Warning is most definitely an excellent collection.