M is for Magic: an amateur’s review

Even thoug I was never a fan of Sandman, I eventually learned to appreciate Neil Gaiman’s work, specially when I found out all his novels and short stories. I’m much more connected to the written word, so it was definitely easier for me to enjoy his lengthy books than the comics with all those images and so little text. That said, M is for Magic was a bit desappointing. Quite a few short stories in it are a bit weak, I guess. I really liked most of the plots he created, but I think some would be better off in a novel. And it is not that he creates such a rich universe in each piece that it deserves to be expanded, no. I just felt that there were so many loose ends in the stories that you could not really enjoy and understand them as they were. There is an introduction in which he says that some of those were written in the beginning of his career as an author, so that may explain. Or maybe I’m just not smart at all.

The thing is I expected more because I’ve read amazing things by him before. American Gods has to be, hands down, one of my favourite books by a contemporary author. The universe he created for this book is so rich, the structure so intrincate… There’s not one single thing I disliked about it. And the whole thing is not about me not liking his short stories. Smoke and Mirrors is another great book by Gaiman and is full of this kind of work. (By the way, a few of the stories in this book are also in M is for Magic. I don’t really know which came first, though.) In each one of them plot, structure and development are way better constructed, and are more than enjoyable.

Anyway, I would not be making justice to the book it if I did not say that, actually, more than half of it is quite great. And the good stories end up making amends for the bad ones. The one about chivalry and the other that takes characters from nursery rhymes are just amazing. After reading them, I felt totally depressed for not having that kind of imagination myself. Unfortunately, the weak links there kinda made me not feel so strongly about this book.

But If someone is interested in book suggestions, I’d recommend American Gods, Smoke and Mirrors and Coraline. This last one is also remarkable and will be released as an animation next February, with Dakota Fanning’s voice. I believe it is intended to a much younger audience than his usual, but it is not a silly little thing that will only please kids. I had great fun reading it, as well as some of my friends. The story is brilliant and some of the illustrations were scary enough even for me. But then, I’m just a very grown-up kid. =)

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