Just finished Smoke and Mirrors today, first “Snow, Glass, Apples” and then “The Wedding Present.”
The “Snow, Glass, Apples” story demonstrates pretty conclusively that the story of Snow White would have been different if she had been a vampire. Kind of a party trick, like a lot of the stories in Smoke & Mirrors. In this case the trick is the same sort that Alan Moore made popular in comic books during the late 1980s. Became a cliche in that arena, but in another it’s good for a spark if done well. So a grim-and-gritty retelling of a fairy tale character, with a lot of period detail, including pre-Grimm brutality.
As usual w/ Gaiman, heterosexual men don’t come off well. There’s a big, bearlike lump of masculinity who wants to get it on w/ a 12-year-old, and since she’s the vampire she kills him. Prince Charming is a necrophiliac.
Story has nice touch when rounding off, a chime. The chime is with the story’s unspoken starting point, the classic Snow White tale, which is always present but never gets a hat tip till the very end, literally the last words of Gaiman’s story. All thru the story, the narrator is talking about snow and whiteness, including the vampire girl’s whiteness. Then the narrator finally brings the two words together as she’s dying and describes the sight of the vampire girl looking down at her in triumph: her eyes this, her lips that, her skin “snow-white.” Kismet.
Nothing much to say about “The Wedding Present,” at least for now. I do think it’s a bit trying that he should show off about how he’s writing a story right there on the spot, spur of the moment — “Wedding Present” pops up in the intro to his book, and in presenting it Gaiman explains to us it tumbled onto his computer screen even as he finished writing one paragraph of the intro and considered another. For heaven’s sake.