Review From User :
A guilty pleasure, sure, but with Ray Bradbury's death, I'd suggest that Neil Gaiman is the best storyteller we have today.
Consider the words of Harry Bailly (he of the Tabard Inn, not George's brother): "And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle / That is to seyn that telleth in this caas / Tales of best sentence and moost solaas / Shal have a soper at oure aller cost." And I'd buy Gaiman a meal or three for this sundry collection of tales pulled together from over the years and published in Smoke and Mirrors.
You might think I'm just showing off with the Middle English, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to draw parallels between Gaiman and Chaucer. Chaucer's Tales cover a wide range of genres, from the romance to the fabliau to the beast fable to the exemplum and everything in between, and Gaiman uses just as wide a contemporary pallet as Chaucer employed from the Middle Ages. Gaiman moves from the hard-boiled to the horror story; he blends prose and poetry with sci-fi, the sacred and the secular; he has an erotic () offering here that transcends mommy porn; heck, he even writes a sestina with vampires in it that works...and that alone has to testify to the genius of the man. Elsewhere Gaiman does everything from the full-blown novel to YA to children's lit; he's written screenplays and comic books, and just about everything he does is golden. Sure he's had some missteps, and not everything in Smoke and Mirrors succeeds at the same level, but hey, the Friar's Tale is a bit dull and the Priest's lengthy sermon is practically unreadable.
And like Chaucer (working from Bocaccio and Petrarch and the Thousand and One Nights among other sources), Gaiman is often at his best when he is reworking earlier stories and authors, especially fairy tales and folk tales. His version of Snow White here is a fascinating retelling that's going to stick with me for a long time, and one of my favorites in the book ("Shoggoth's Old Peculiar") grows out of Lovecraft. And even though it's goofy as hell, I even like his pastiche of Beowulf and Baywatch with Larry Talbot thrown in as an added plus.
Finally, and thanks for sticking with me this long, Gaiman addresses many of the same concerns Chaucer had: greed and hypocrisy, dreams and where they come from, what makes a good marriage, the role of women in a male-dominated society, and on and on (the intertwining roles of magic and technology in "Cold Colors" try the Franklin's Tale), but through them all, both authors are really interested in the whole idea of stories and story telling and what makes a good story. And what that is, if you go back to Harry Bailly, is that right blend of "best sentence and moost solaas," and Neil Gaiman just about always gets it right.
Narrated by Holter Graham
Length: 9 hours and 26 minutes
This is book #5 of “Chronicles of Nick” series
Be careful what you wish for…
You just might get it.
Nick Gautier is tired of his destiny. He doesn’t want to be the son of a demon who’s fated to end the world. Nor does he want to see another demon or other preternatural creature who wants to kill or enslave him. He just wants to be normal and have normal problems like everyone else.
But normality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When he gets sucked into an alternate reality where his mother has married his mentor and his Atlantean god best friend has become a human geek, he begins to understand that no life is free of pain, and that every person has a specific place in the universe… Even the son of a hated demon.
Most of all, he sees that his powers aren’t the curse he thought they were, and that the world needs a champion, especially one its enemies can’t imagine rising up to defend the ones he should destroy.
Old enemies and new friends square off for a major battle that will either restore Nick to his real world, or end him forever.