M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman: Book Review

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M is for Magic

4 Stars

I’m trying out audio (again), this time during my commute to work. My commute isn’t bad, about 30 minutes, so a collection of short stories, written and read by Neil Gaiman no less, seemed like a good place to start. I was right!

I’ll say first of all that I love Gaiman’s voice. I could listen to the man all day. I don’t really have any other narrators to compare him to, but just the fact that I actually finished this audio book should be a testament to his greatness!

I’ve read a lot of these stories in print, but I have to say that hearing Gaiman read them himself added a little something to the story. For example, I would never have “heard” the troll speaking in such a gray, tired voice if I had read it on my own. Hearing Gaiman’s take on that really paved the way for the ending of that one. There were more examples, but that’s the most striking.

“Four and Twenty Blackbirds” reminded me a lot of Jasper Fforde‘s Nursery Crime series. It’s a very tangled, nursery rhyme noir PI story, which sounds like a big mess but was actually a lot of fun.

“Troll Bridge” was a little eerie. I did not see the ending coming, but it made sense. It reminded me a little of another story of Gaiman’s that I read in Fragile Things. I like this take on the theme better.

“Don’t Ask Jack” was probably my least favorite, just because there wasn’t much story. It’s a goose-bump-inducing little vignette though.

“How to Sell the Ponti Bridge” was another I wasn’t that crazy about. It was sort of a fantasy version of a ballsy scam. Not exactly my thing.

“October in the Chair” is a story that I really liked in Fragile Things. I just like the imagery of the months of the year gathered around a campfire telling stories. The story October tells is somehow more sad for me than anything.

“Chivalry” was one of my favorites. I loved the character of Mrs. Whittaker (sp? a reason I do like print books better). I can just see this lonely, crusty old lady who makes poor Galahad work for the Holy Grail.

“The Price” is perfect for Halloween. I saw this whole story very clearly in my mind, and I felt so worried for the cat and the family. It always amazes me when well-written short stories can make me care about characters so quickly.

“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is just an odd story. I didn’t care for it in Fragile Things, and I didn’t care too much for it here.

“Sunbird” is another one I’ve read elsewhere. I somehow lost the end of this on my iPod, so I can’t say too much about it, but I do remember that it was not a favorite when I read it in print.

“The Witch’s Headstone”–the story that started The Graveyard Book. I love it in any format. I just love Bod and the witch, and I loved the book this grew into.

“Instructions”–I don’t think I liked this a whole lot when I first read it, but it has grown on me and I now love it. I love my illustrated edition, but I also love hearing Gaiman read it.

This book is supposed to be a collection of stories for teens, and I do think it would work as an introduction to Gaiman for that age group. But I also just highly recommend it in general.

Read an excerpt (at the bottom of the page).

Find author Neil Gaiman on his website for young readers, his blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Buy M is for Magic on

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  1. I love Neil Gaiman so much! His stories, his voice – he's simply great! I haven't read this one yer, but I love your review. It's delightful that you said something about every story. It really gives one an idea about the collection.

  2. +JMJ+

    It sounds fantastic! Thanks for the short descriptions of each story. =)

    Is Neil Gaiman exceptional at "doing voices," as we say, or is it just his tone, in all its subtleties, that conjures up the different characters?

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