I picked this book up by chance at a charity fundraiser, attracted first by the beautiful cover, which is quite lovely in person. I also love Neil Gaiman, so was eager to read the book. Fragile Things is a quite lengthy collection of short stories and poems, with a lengthy foreword from Gaiman explaining a bit about each of the stories. Many of them seem to have been written in response to requests for particular anthologies, which I found kind of interesting – I imagine that Gaiman’s work is quite sought after by people putting together anthologies.
I have very few memories of the poems, but several of the stories are quite lovely, written in many different styles. “The Problem of Susan” looks at what happened to Susan Penvensie after her brothers and sister were killed in the Narnia series. It is a very wistful and sad story, and I have been thinking about it for months afterwards. “A Study in Emerald” is a Lovecraft/Doyle inspired tale, and was very clever and particularly amusing after having watched the recent Sherlock series on BBC. “Bitter Grounds” is a clever little zombie story, and pokes some fun at academic conferences and their attendees for good measure. There are some interesting ghost stories, and some unsettling stories about some evil people. American Gods‘ Shadow makes an appearance in one of the stories, and you can see some ideas that later found homes in other works, particularly The Graveyard Book, I think.
I really enjoyed this book of short stories, and found it to be perfect for travelling. It was engrossing, so that you could block out all the airport noise, but with short stories it is easy to pick up and put down again without unduly interrupting your reading. I understand that several of the stories are available in other places, but if you haven’t read them, I recommend this book.