Neil Gaiman’s “M Is for Magic” anthology

M is for Magic

By: Neil Gaiman


Harper Trophy 2007

A children’s fantasy anthology review

Neil Gaiman’s fantastical stories throw words, images, and problems around like paint in M is for Magic.  The stories range from tales of thievery and the devil to dealings with trolls, phoenixes, and the Holy Grail.  The resulting works brim with bold patterns: zebra stripes, leopard print, and giraffe spots-somewhat familiar, starkly memorable, and all vying for attention.  These bold stories will grab your mind, flash their bright themes, and then settle down quietly for a snack.  Gaiman writes like a general.  He either attacks the reader with surprise, efficiently wrapping everything up before all the meanings and uproar quite settle down, or else slowly sets up his plots to surround and take down, completing his mission so quietly and easily that it feels like you didn’t quite get the full experience you were expecting.

In short, these stories are likeable.  They delve around the edges of disturbing behavior and fairy tales, but always manage to remain uniquely Gaiman’s.  On another note, the way the endings are reached seems designed to leave the reader unsettled and wanting something more.  While that might be appropriate for many of these particular plots, I wish there had been a little bit more resolution with a few of them.  It seems that there is no middle ground with these works, either everything is subtle or absolutely nothing is.  I longed for a little in-between.  That being said, these stories will definitely give you something interesting to while away your time, and they are different enough that there should be something for every fantastic taste.  My personal favorites are “Sunbird” and “Troll Bridge.”  Yours may be something else, but you’ll never know unless you read it.  I recommend taking it to waiting rooms, on airplanes, or anywhere else that really needs a good dose of anti-boredom magic.

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