“Stories are in one way or another mirrors. We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how it doesn’t work. Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in darkness.”
― Neil Gaiman, “Smoke and Mirrors”
Content Warning: Some short stories within this book are disturbing, inappropriate, or utterly dark.
“Smoke and Mirrors” is a collection of short stories, poems, and novellas by Neil Gaiman. Each story has its own plotline and message while incorporating the theme of smoke and mirrors. Mirrors reflect what’s placed in front of them. But if smoke is present, the image can be distorted. That being said, each story is distorted in one way or another. Some stories are weird and fascinating while others are quite disturbing, giving the reader a sense of curiosity to continue reading. This book — with its multiple stories found in between the covers — illuminates human nature, including the darkness which we would rather never see illuminated.
Gaiman has such a unique style that becomes intoxicatingly addictive once you’ve read a novel by the author. Therefore, I highly recommend reading this book or another by Gaiman. As he explores common themes of human nature including wants and needs, he adds a sense of distortion through fantasy and the use of deception. From a story about searching for a girl in a magazine, to finding yourself in L.A. and meeting an insightful man, to having an intimate night with someone uninvolved and unknown, to realizing the oddness about a place is often wrong, not right; Gaiman’s twisted ideas and extravagant writing leads to an amazing, captivating novel with new adventures with every turn of the page.