My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Collections are difficult beasts to handle, especially when they bring together material that ranges from the very short to the novella, touching different genres and subgenres, often out of the original context they were written for.
It is easy, when rating such a book on the whole, to base yourself on the parts you didn’t like rather than the bits you liked – and there are some stories and snippets I felt fell flat, or didn’t really add anything to the book. I also think that the bits written for Tori Amos probably made more sense alongside the music than by themselves.
On the other side, the writing is usually pretty good Gaiman, and there are some precious and absolute gems like A study in emerald, Instructions or Sunbird that are well worth the price of the book. If you like American Gods, you also can’t miss the Monarch of the Glen novella, that brings Shadow back in an unusual retelling of a well known Old English poem.
I would not recommend this as a starting point to read Neil Gaiman, but it’s a very enjoyable read if you’re familiar with the author.