Hearts, Keys and Puppetry by Neil Gaiman and the Twitterverse

Hearts, Keys and Puppetry coverWhen Sam’s reflection in the mirror stops following her lead and tells her that “we don’t love you anymore,” she’s a little surprised. When she and the reflection switch places and references to a broken promise start to tug at her memory, “alarmed” might be a better word. Possibly “terrified.”

So begins a story full of doubles, mysterious objects, sacrificial trades, and talking puppets, animals, and flowers. There are echoes of a number of fairy tales and classics (Alice in Wonderland is perhaps the clearest), without the sum feeling like a mishmash of clichés. All this makes for quite a respectable fantasy story, generally cohesive and satisfying — particularly impressive given the fact that it was composed by over 100 authors, 140 characters at a time.

I’ve been following Gaiman’s latest Twittersourced project, and was excited to discover this earlier work. While the new project is a collection of stories inspired by fan tweets posted in response to a list of questions, but written by Gaiman himself, it appears that Gaiman provided only the first line of Hearts, Keys and Puppetry, assembling the rest of the story from the tweeted contributions of others. Another interesting feature: the story seems to be available only in its audio edition, narrated by the remarkably talented Katherine Kellgren. The narration does help to add an extra degree of continuity to the final product, and while a line here and there has a bit of a fan fiction feel to it, for the most part the story does little to betray its origins. Recommended for anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale.

Read reviews from Breathing Fiction and HTLit.

Find out how they did it

Watch Katherine Kellgren in the studio:

Cover image taken from Audible.com.

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