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Smoke and Mirrors

Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
Length: 10 hrs and 36 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This short fiction collection includes 'Chivalry', this year's Radio 4 Neil Gaiman Christmas Day special, starring Glenda Jackson and Kit Harington. This is the story of Mrs Whitaker, who finds the Holy Grail in a charity shop.

Open your mind to one of the brightest, most brilliant writers of our generation....

This definitive collection of Neil Gaiman's short fiction will haunt your imagination and move you to the very depths of your soul. An elderly widow finds the Holy Grail beneath an old fur coat. A stray cat fights and refights a terrible nightly battle to protect his unwary adoptive family from unimaginable evil. A young couple receives a wedding gift that reveals a chilling alternative history of their marriage. These tales and much more await in this extraordinary book, revealing one of our most gifted storytellers at the height of his powers.

©1998 Neil Gaiman (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

Critic Reviews

"There's no one quite like Neil Gaiman." (George R. R. Martin)

"Gaiman is god in the universe of story." (Stephen Fry)

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start at chapter 3

The first hour of this wonderful collection of engrossing short stories is almost incomprehensible to the first- time listener as Neil reads out the title of each story and then a little blurb about how it came to be written. There is barely a pause between each title. It's the section of a print book that you initially flick over, only returning later, after you have read the stories. I nearly returned this book before getting to the real start at chapter 3, where the brilliant collection of stories really starts. So learn from me. Also, be aware that some of the stories are very NSFW. Make sure your ear buds are in least you have to meet your mother or child in the eye while a male prostitute describes his love making. It's hard to describe this eclectic collection as anything other than engrossing; the most fantastic stories told in the most believable manner. definitely recommend. But start at chapter 3.

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Too many darkness here

i enjoyed Gaimens The Graveyard book but after the first few stories i felt they became too sickly dark for me - i felt as though i had fallen into the member of a covans hopeless lostness and stopoed listening

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    3 out of 5 stars

snippets and vignettes but not enough to bite into

I am in awe of Neil Gaiman, and this is a book of vignettes , short stories . I prefer the longer variety, that is my only grumble. It was entertaining but I suppose I love his lengthy novels not the short stuff, doesn't give enough time to build up intrigue and wonder.

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  • Joni J Mielke
  • 16-01-2020

Not my favourite Gaiman compilation

I enjoyed some of stories more than I did others. The narration is excellent, with good adjustment for different characters, as well as the shifts in tone and genre. I liked the variety of stories and poems that were included in this collection. No matter the subject matter, there is always a vividness to these tales that make them almost materialise in front of ones eyes as they're conveyed with Gaiman's customary intelligence and attention to detail. A good listen.

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  • Alan Parker
  • 09-04-2015

Too dark!

The stories are too dark for my tastes. Good narration, first section a waste of time - just talking about how the stories came about.

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  • tara
  • 27-03-2017

I couldn't stop listening and felt empty when it was over.

I love how these short stories linger with you just enough to have to pause the next one, to take in the situations you are flung into and the horror/ memories that you go through. My favourite and least chilling is the Holy Grail story, the one that gave me the chills was Gaiman's version of Snow White, and the story with the mouse trap made me the most uncomfortable. I will be listening again soon, there's no doubt about it.

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  • Landgirl
  • 30-04-2015

A Gallery on An Other World

This collection of short stories offers a great opportunity to hear a writer's voice developing. The downside is that the stories can become same-y, and, inevitably, some stories resonate more with a listener. His Murder Mysteries story seems to me to be an absolute marvel--both the story and his reading. I had the same feeling of amazement as a child with a bedtime story, especially with this one but with many of the others as well. His performance of the stories is compelling.

There is much more to Gaiman's stories than things that go bump in the night although he does such stories deftly. Neil Gaiman offers us a perspective on the world that is honest and ironic, slightly cynical but deeply affectionate. Through his stories you meet a gallery of characters some familar--others perhaps that person you saw on the bus last week or that lady on the train. Through his story telling we are transported to someplace almost like here and we come back from the visit just a little bit wiser or kinder or grateful.

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  • Vee
  • 17-02-2020

Don't bother.The stories: rambling and forgettable

Not worth the download, unless you want to listen to background noise to send you to sleep.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Greg
  • 14-08-2018

A very mixed bag.

I came into this one cold as a fan of Gaiman's work as an Author of comic books but never having read or listened to any of his novels. As a fan of short stories and novellas this seemed like a good place to dip my toe into the water. The experience was mixed at best.

Naturally like any collection of short stories and poems there's a fair bit of diversity on show. But perhaps in some places to such an extent that I lost track of any distinct authorial Voice.

The stories that are good are often great; his lovecraft mythos stories have tons of character and even a fair bit of unexpected humour, and the tale of the troll under the bridge lingered with me long afterwards for no reason I can clearly explain.

But there's a lot of filler added that doesn't quite stand up. Some of this is down to Gaiman being the one to read his own work. The man is without doubt a talented author but he is not a natural narrator or performer. His accents come and go, when he manages a convincing one, and his listless dreamy voice works well for the whimsy but badly for anything where the blood is supposed to run a little hotter.

Gaiman devotees and completists will probably enjoy it a lot. But it's not the best introduction to his writing and I think perhaps he is best served by being read by a professional narrator or voice artist.

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  • MR
  • 28-12-2013

some truely memorable stories but some forgetable

What made the experience of listening to Smoke and Mirrors the most enjoyable?

The wedding, the angle story and snow, glass, apples where very memorable and fantastic tales. Many of the others where good short tales like the American tourist who stopped in a pub, and the werewolf. But several where quite frogetable.

Would you be willing to try another book from Neil Gaiman? Why or why not?

Yes this is my 3rd Neil Gaiman book and his tales are intriguing i say it like that as his story and interesting don't feel like the right words to describe his style.

Which character – as performed by Neil Gaiman – was your favourite?

Don't think i can pick 1 from about all the tales

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

As short stories some of them i did.

Any additional comments?

Neil Gaiman reading his own book he is able to emphasise the important parts. any body listening to this be prepared for some dark tales

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 24-04-2015

wonderful collection

I really enjoyed listening to this on my drives to and from work. He really creates believable worlds and characters

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs. V. C. Bluff
  • 27-03-2020

Very mysterious!

Loved this book. Very eloquently written. Gives you lots to think about. Very thought provoking.

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  • Just
  • 02-02-2020

Gaiman's First Anthology

Smoke and Mirrors is Neil Gaiman's first collection of short fiction. I enjoyed reading this many years ago and the audio version, narrated skilfully by Gaiman himself, is quite excellent. If you like short fiction and easy listens, then this is certainly right for you. Would definitely recommend.

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  • Mrs Michaela Pelosi
  • 09-09-2019

Big fan!

Loved it, a big fan of Gaiman tales 😉
The snow White story was the tip of the ice burg.

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  • George
  • 14-04-2019

BRILLIANT, JUST BRILLIANT.

Another fantastic book by Neil Gaiman. My favourite story was We Can Get Them For Wholesale, it was a dark and interesting tale that had me hooked from the beginning. I've said it before, and I will say it again, Neil Gaiman is one of the best modern fictional writer's and my personal favourite.