American Gods

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3.5 Stars
American Gods
by Neil Gaiman
HarperTorch 2002

For thousands of years people have come to America, sometimes in small groups, sometimes in large numbers, across the Atlantic and the Pacific, from Europe, Africa and Asia. Some left quickly, others settled permanently. Always they brought their gods with them.

But the new land was not a hospitable place for gods. The gods from the old world were soon abandoned by their former followers, who created an array of shiny new gods to worship in their stead. Some of the old gods went mad, some killed themselves, but most continued to eke out an existence on the fringes of human society.

Naturally the old gods resented the new gods, who looked on them with equal resentment. After all, there is only so much belief to go around…

Shadow is in the process of being released from prison when he learns that his beloved wife has been killed in a car crash. Now he doesn’t know what to do with his life, until a disreputable-looking old man approaches him and offers him a job. “Call me ‘Wednesday’,” says the old man. “It’s my day after all.”

This is a clever and darkly funny book which I enjoyed a great deal. It takes elements from a wide variety of old mythologies and mixes them seamlessly into the gritty underside of American society. And it’s been a long time since a read a book featuring such a cool, masculine hero.

You should be aware that this is basically horror fantasy. (Some of the old gods were not particularly nice.)