Over the course of a 30-plus-year career, Neil Gaiman has proven himself as a writer many times over, moving ably between genres and classifications, whether it’s comics, journalism, fiction, or spooky books for children. Gaiman has a knack for creation myths and fairy tales, stories that feel like they’re already part of the fabric of your life, the sort of legends that are retold, again and again, around a campfire.
The release of this week’s The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, a collaboration with illustrator Eddie Campbell, is another fine addition to the Gaiman library, a room somewhere deep in the woods which is absolutely groaning with mythical, magical stories, where Death meets Dream in a place like the London Underground. It may be an absolutely impossible, downright foolhardy thing to do, but we will try ranking some of our favorite Neil Gaiman works.
10. Make Good Art
Ah, the genre of the graduation speech gone viral and turned into a book! This one takes Gaiman’s May 2012 speech at the Philadelphia University of the Arts and makes it into something inspirational.
A young man decides to retrieve a fallen star for the girl he loves. Romance, adventure, and a very real sense of the fantastic ensue. Gaiman can do his very own Princess Bride-esque book when he’s in the mood.
The novelization of the television serial, Neverwhere is a wonderful trip into the secret world below the London Underground, where a regular man rescues a magical girl named Door and finds a whole new level to London. A story that subtly alters your vision of a city.
7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
A seven-year-old boy, alone on his birthday, finds a mysterious family in the woods. But of course, they’re secret guardians against a malign evil, and magical stuff ends up happening. (It’s quite good, though.)
6. Death: The High Cost of Living
A Sandman series spinoff, this one follows around Death, one of the “Endless,” a dysfunctional family of powerful god-like creatures who control the universe’s desires. In Gaiman’s eyes, Death is a friendly goth girl, gently bringing people into that good night.
5. The Graveyard Book
Winner of the Newbury Award, The Graveyard Book is about the only living boy in a graveyard, essentially. Orphaned Nod is raised amongst the gravestones and ghosts, learning about life while living with death.
4. Good Omens
Co-written with the brilliant Terry Pratchett, Good Omens is about an angel and demon who team up to keep the Apocalypse and the imminent arrival of the Antichrist, currently a regular old child, at bay.
3. American Gods
Two men looking for America in the margins. The recently widowed Shadow takes up with the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, and an odyssey ensues. The hint, of course, is in the title.
Coraline feels like it will be around years from now. It’s a terrifying fable about a young girl who’s lonely and new in town, finding a portal with the Other Mother — a creepily perfect rendition of her own mother with black buttons for eyes. Eeeeek.
1. The Sandman
If there’s a work that Gaiman will be remembered for 50 years in the future, his epic comic series, which ran from 1989 to 1996, may be it. In it, we follow Dream, one of the seven “Endless.” The story starts with young Dream, or Morpheus, and goes on to color a whole world.