Occasionally, people ask me why I like scary stories so much. I have a higher threshold than some when it comes to gore and creepiness, although I will walk away from a book or movie that makes me feel sick or like I’m going to have serious nightmares. And yet I continue to seek out books and movies that creep right up to the very edge of both those feelings. On purpose. Over and over again.
So it’s fitting that one of my all-time favorite writers, Neil Gaiman, decided to design his latest collection around the theme of being disturbed and unsettled.
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances takes its title from an Internet phenomenon in which bloggers, videographers and reviewers will tag their posts with “warnings” for specific content that the reader or viewer might find upsetting. Sometimes, it’s difficult to say exactly what might upset the average reader. Where that line is depends entirely on the individual, which means it’s entirely possible that what’s too dark for one person will be just fine for another. There is no such thing as a universal “trigger warning.”
As a dedicated horror geek, I go into most books and movies assuming off the bat that something horrible might happen. Still, I do have a line, my own set of “triggers” that encompass things that will make me put a book down and walk away. The trouble is, I often don’t know where that line is until I’ve crossed it. And actually, that’s part of the fun: the uncertainty as to whether this story will go too far, or go to the edge in such a way that turns it into one of my favorites. The characters might not live to the end. The monsters might win. The world might end.
But then again, it might not.
It’s that balance between dread and hope that makes the journey worthwhile and captivating. Few authors can walk that line effectively, but Gaiman is one of those gifted few. Not all the stories in this collection are scary, but they’re all strange enough to keep you on edge. For me, that’s ultimately a good thing.
Place your hold for Trigger Warning here.