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Publisher's Summary

A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night, taking one of the spectators along with it.

In a novella set two years after the events of American Gods, Shadow pays a visit to an ancient Scottish mansion, and finds himself trapped in a game of murder and monsters.

In a Hugo Award-winning short story set in a strangely altered Victorian England, the great detective Sherlock Holmes must solve a most unsettling royal murder.

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams and nightmares.

In a Locus Award-winning tale, the members of an excusive epicurean club lament that they've eaten everything that can be eaten, with the exception of a legendary, rare, and exceedingly dangerous Egyptian bird.

Such marvelous creations and more, including a short story set in the world of The Matrix and others set in the worlds of gothic fiction and children's fiction, can be found in this extraordinary collection, which showcases Gaiman's storytelling brilliance as well as his entertaining (and dark) sense of humor. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most unique writers of our time.

©2006 Neil Gaiman (P)2006 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

  • Locus Award, Best Collection, 2007
  • Audie Award Finalist, Short Stories, Collections, 2007

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Laura
  • MOORHEAD, MN, United States
  • 04-02-07

Shadow Returns!!

I've been a fan of Neil Gaiman since "American Gods" and bought this book pretty much only for the Shadow novella (which was great). Sometimes I find Gaiman's short stories hard to enjoy because they're SO short. There's not enough time to get really involved. That's not to say I didn't like this book, because I did. I just got a little frustrated at times.
By far the best part of this purchase was Gaiman's narration. His voice is hypnotizing.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and he didn't disappoint with this audiobook. It's a real treat to hear him read his own work, and as a collection of short stories (collected from anthologies, primarily), Fragile Things is an excellent introduction to the breadth of Gaiman's talent. His stories range from epic (as in Sunbird) to mundane with a twist (How to Talk to Girls at Parities).

I'm thrilled that Audible offered this book, and I hpe they continue to add science fiction and fantasy to their libraries.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Karen
  • Everett, WA, United States
  • 11-03-10

Perhaps a different format?

Neil Gaiman is probably my favorite author to listen to in audio format out there. I have listened to nearly everything he's ever written that's been recorded and consider "The Graveyard Book" the closest thing to a perfect audio book ever produced. So I had looked forward with anticipation to "sinking my ears into it" when I downloaded this book. It unfortunately fell a bit short of my expectations.

So what's wrong with this one? Well... a number of little things that add up to enough to make me unable to give it more than 3 stars. The stories are generally good, though some certainly better than others, and Neil reading them is always a bonus, as he reads his work so well. But, perhaps (and probably) because it is in an audio format, one does not really have the time to digest the individual pieces. There is mere seconds of transition time between the various stories/poems/commentary. If you listen to your books while doing tasky things, as I often do, it is not feasible to stop between pieces, digest the tale, think about the work, etc. Some of the pieces are short enough and esoteric enough that it is not automatically clear that one story's ended and another begun. I think it likely that, had I read this book in paper format, I might have had a different experience.

That said, in the end the book is redeemed by the novella taking up with the character Shadow from "American Gods". It is epic enough, long enough and in keeping enough with the original tale that it made muddling through the rest of the book worth it. I have no regrets for having added this title to my Gaiman library, but it falls rather to the bottom of the list.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Saye
  • Madison, GA, USA
  • 03-07-07

Great stuff

Neil Gaiman is a master of short fiction! This is a fine collection of stories that range from the terrifying to the comic, sometimes masterfully blending both. I think the introductory material, in which he discusses the genesis of the stories, runs on a bit, but the stories are worth the wait and the price.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jason
  • stittsville, Ontario, Canada
  • 01-31-07

great collection

not for the faint of heart, neil gaiman has collected some amazing short stories and poems in this volume. a few of the works would be for "adult" ears only. this should not, however, take enjoyment away from the discerning bibliophile. gaiman creates vividly painted worlds for the reader to explore. his descriptive prose is beyond compare.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This fractured anthology of fantasy tales is indeed fragile. The author tries out ideas in a non-linear manner; he hypnotizes and bemuses the reader with a syncopated beat making you wonder, "what the heck?" and, "is that all?", and "why did we stop here?" I became infatuated with Gaiman's sheer creative phalanx of ideas in this work especially the character of Shadow and have ordered the "American Gods" title to hear more.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Marcus
  • SHOEMAKERSVILLE, PA, United States
  • 04-12-15

A Collection that's Hit or Miss

Firstly, this thing starts off with a half an hour intro where Neil Gaiman gives background on every story to come. Not only does this get very boring after a while because you have no idea what stories he's talking about (not having heard them yet), but you also end up forgetting about the intro/explanation by the time you DO get to the stories. Not a great way to start.

The stories themselves are what seem to be a mixture of poetry, short stories and longer short stories. It can sometimes be very confusing when you shift to a new story, especially toward the middle where there seems to be paragraph-long stories back to back (are they connected? I have no idea).

There are some real gems in here, but the overall feeling is that they get lost in the shuffle. I realize it's a collection/compilation, so that's the best place to just dump every thing, but many of these stories were better left untold IMO.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Stockbridge, GA, USA
  • 04-09-07

Great Writer

Neil is an excellent writer. American Gods is probably one of my favorite books. These short stories have the same wit that made American Gods so good...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good group of stories by Gaiman. A very fun novella that picks up at the end of American Gods. To be fair, there were a few stories that I found myself getting rather bored with and easily distracted while listening to them. All told, if you like Gaiman you'll enjoy this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Classic Neil Gaiman

In short, this is another great installment from Neil Gaiman. Some of the stories blew me over (A Study In Emerald) and others were forgettable. But the entire time, I was lost in the world of Neil Gaiman's imagination (which has no competition). This story collection is worth picking up just for the American Gods story featuring Shadow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful