American Gods is a modern day fantasy novel from the fertile imagination of Neil Gaiman. It was first published in 2001, so it may not be all that modern. There is actually a blend of various genres here, and it is a long book. There are longer books out there, but is still a somewhat daunting length here.
The fellow named Shadow is just released from prison and is looking forward to a joyous reunion with his wife when he is informed that she was just killed in a car accident alongside his best friend. And the suspicions that may raise in anyone reading this blog would probably be correct. Anyway, Shadow is then recruited to be a driver and errand boy for an enigmatic con man named Mr. Wednesday. Wednesday turns out to be more than that, however, and Shadow finds himself in the company of various people with strange powers. He also learns a little something about his own origins along the way. Just because Shadow’s wife is dead does not mean that she isn’t looking out for him. Shadow is also about to become central in an upcoming war between some familiar gods in new guises.
Gaiman and his works are pretty highly regarded among the fantasy/sci-fi fans. Much of the acclaim is well-deserved. This novel is not without some originality. Gaiman’s writing flows pretty easily, but it manages to do so with a distinctive elegance at times. There are times, however, when the book really feels longer than necessary. Writers who churn out 750 page volumes take that risk, and my interest waned and sputtered a few times on this journey. His lead character does manage to stay compelling enough to keep me willing to hold on. This is my first time reading this author’s work so thoroughly, although I have been familiar with the name for some time. The novel does remain interesting enough for me to generally encourage others to give it a go. It’s one that does require some patience and a willingness to forgive the doldrums within the plot. I still found the experience to be worthwhile and am by no means deterred from checking out other works by Neil Gaiman.
Any further exploration of the works of Neil Gaiman will resume at a later date. Next up, I will be reading and examining a new Sherlock Holmes novel from Titan Books. Tim Major adds his voice to the various pastiche writers keeping the master detective supplied with new adventures with The Back to Front Murders.