Sometimes it takes a while but when either Sarah, my regular guest reviewer or I like a book we try and persuade the other to read it. Having read and loved American Gods in 2011 (read my review here), Sarah has finally got around to it!
Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Mel reviewed this weighty tome back in 2011, so it shows just how far behind the times I am! I am most definitely a Neil Gaiman fan, although as I prefer him in ‘straight-up’ fantasy mode, I was a little hesitant about reading one of his more surreal urban fantasy books, especially one as large as this (thank god for the Kindle!). And speaking of gods/Gods….
What happens to the Gods of old? Just because we no longer believe in them, does that mean that no one else does? Once a God is no longer worshipped, do they still qualify for the title, or do they simply cease?
Our hero Shadow, an ex-con displaying a wealth of kindness, and the ability to articulate wonderfully exactly what he (and the reader) is thinking at the most perplexing moments, is presented with the physical embodiment of all these questions, and is expected to accept and move on. His post-prison employer, known by the moniker Mr Wednesday, is a shadowy trickster with more linguistic tricks than a mensa tongue-twister, but the question is, is he a god, or a God?
I have to admit, that this novel was a bit too surreal for my tastes, but it will be up many people’s curvy street (Mel for one!). If it hadn’t have been for Gaiman’s sublime grasp of storytelling, and his ridiculously likeable hero, I might have had to bail out early. However, I was in it to the end, which earns this (one for fans of China Mieville) an 8 out of 10