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M Is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
Cover Artist: Teddy Kristiansen (Illustrations)
Review by Gayle Surrette
HarperCollins Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0061186422
Date: 01 July, 2007 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Neil Gaiman's M Is for Magic is a pure delight. The range of stories, from creepy to laugh out loud funny and all the in between stops, keep you reading. Though I found the best way to read was in short doses, reading just a story at a time -- leaving time to fully enjoy between each sip.

From the "Introduction" to the final "Instructions" -- the stories delight and entertain. While this is being marketed as a young adult book, adults should not let that put them off from reading it. I know ... who'd do such a thing? But there are adults who feel it's beneath them to read children's and young adult stories -- it's their loss, but there it is.

"The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds" -- Humpty has been tragically killed in an accident, according to police. But, Jack Horner is being hired by Humpty's sister to find his killer and get back her photos. Jack may be little but he's not stupid; he knows something's rotten somewhere in Nurseryland and it looks like it goes to the top. The feel of the story is very much like noir mystery -- a blend of Hammett and Chandler. The illusions may go over the heads of many young readers but adds extra dimension to the Nurseryland rendition of a noir mystery. If you're well acquainted with nursery rhymes you may solve the mystery before Jack, but then there's some unexpected twists, so maybe not.

"Troll Bridge" -- A young boy wanders into an area he'd not walked before and is confronted with a troll. Being quick on the uptake the lad manages to put the troll off saying he'd be poor food since he's so lacking in experience and he promises to return. Years pass and the troll and boy have faced many changes in their lives. The story is very bittersweet and poignant on many levels -- the ending I'll leave to the reader to experience.

"Chivalry" -- A clever tale of an elderly woman who manages to take all of life's surprises in stride -- even when those surprises are extraordinary.

"The Price" -- There is very little I can say about this story, a farm family takes in the stray animals that others abandon in the country. The Black Cat seemed healthy when he arrived on their doorstep but something is not quite right. Some gifts come with a very high price indeed.

The book also contains: "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" which is nominated for a Hugo in the Short Story category as well as 5 other stories including a tall tale rogue story, a couple of very different ghost stories, a fearfully evil children's toy, and an epicurean club looking for a different food to try (but not man -- they've already done that).

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