This collection contains exactly the sort of stories that one would expect Neil Gaiman to write -- brilliant, original, imaginative fantasy tales that occasionally make tentative steps across the border into Horror(but never quite cross over). Fantasy, but lyric fantasy, not epic, and grounded in our reality -- there are no hobbits here, and almost all these tales concern fantasy elements that seem to have somehow brushed up against our reality, rather than the reverse.
If you like Neil Gaiman's other works, you'll like these stories; if you don't, you probably won't; if you don't know whether you do or not, but you're interested enough to read Amazon reviews, then this collection provides a magnificent place to start.
I will focus on the flaws, not because the collection is flawed, or because any of these flaws are significant in comparison with the compelling and powerful strengths of the stories, but because the stories are so good that a list of their virtues would become boring ("this story is the best story about this thing since Neil Gaiman's last story about this thing.")
1) Some, most, or perhaps all of these stories have appeared in prior publications; I believe "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" and "Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot" were in some editions of Smoke and Mirrors, "A Study in Emerald" was available for a long time (if it isn't still) on Neil Gaiman's website, "Harlequin Valentine" has been available as a small illustrated hardcover for a long time now, etc. If you're enough of a Neil Gaiman fan to have tracked down all those disparate stories, though, in all those disparate places, this single volume will probably be a marked convenience.
2) There are stories in here that are unsettling, but none that I would classify as actually *scary* -- the sort of horror, if it can be called horror, that becomes more frightening the more imaginative you are, the way a particularly startling pattern of shadows might terrify a child but have no effect whatsoever on a more rationally-minded adult. Long time readers of Gaiman won't consider this a flaw, but rather a virtue - subtlety is far rarer in fiction these days, and far more difficult to achieve, than simple raw horror - but I mention it as a caveat to the virgin.
3) I personally felt that some of the outside references in the stories fell a bit flat, and a few of the stories fell a bit short of Gaiman's best work. The reworking of Beowulf here ("The Monarch of the Glen") was not as effective as his earlier "Bay Wolf", and felt a bit like a pastiche of Gaiman's other characters, plus Grendel. On the other hand, "The Problem of Susan" may be the most effective and disturbing reworking of a children's story since Gaiman's own "Snow, Glass, Apples" in _Smoke and Mirrors_, and "A Study in Emerald" is simultaneously one of the best Lovecraft pastiches and one of the best Sherlock Holmes pastiche I've ever seen.
The following stories are contained in this collection:
1) An introduction where Gaiman details some background on each of the stories, and includes a short-short story on its own as well (titled "The Mapmaker")
2) A Study in Emerald
3) The Fairy Reel (poem)
4) October in the Chair
5) The Hidden Chamber
6) Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire
7) The Flints of Memory Lane
8) Closing Time
9) Going Wodwo (poem)
10) Bitter Grounds
11) Other People
12) Keepsakes and Treasures
13) Good Boys Deserve Favors
14) The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch
15) Strange Little Girls
16) Harlequin Valentine
18) The Problem of Susan
20) How Do You Think It Feels?
21) My Life
22) Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot
23) Feeders and Eaters
24) Diseasemaker's Croup
25) In the End
27) Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky
28) How to Talk to Girls at Parties
29) The Day the Saucers Came
31) Inventing Aladdin
32) The Monarch of the Glen