Anansi Boys

By Neil Gaiman

Rating: 3 stars

When Fat Charlie Nancy’s father dies, he finds out that his father was a god and that he had a brother he didn’t know about. And that makes his world much more interesting, and much more dangerous.

This is a much more whimsical book than American Gods, with whom it shares a universe and one character (Mr Nancy/Anansi, Charlie’s father, whose death kicks off events). Whereas that was deep and brimming with mythology, this feels much lighter, more like a good old-fashioned story without as much going on underneath. There was a lot of humour in it, of a style that reminded me a lot of Good Omens, but without the lightness of touch ( Terry Pratchett’s influence?) that made that book such a joy to read. It sounds like I’m being negative, but it’s just that I expect great things of Gaiman and this is, IMO, just good. Fat Charlie is a decent enough character and I really felt for him when the whirlwind of his brother, Spider, came into his life. For a while, it seemed like it would just be Spider tormenting Charlie, but the tone shifts later in the book, as the events driving things start to come to the fore.

The focus here is on African folklore, in the way that it was Norse mythology that drove American Gods and while this is less familiar to me than the latter, Gaiman handles it well enough that what you need to know is explained in the text, so you don’t feel like you’re floundering. That the story is reasonably lightweight helps in this regard too.

So this is an entertaining read in an unfamiliar (to me) mythology and definitely lighter than some of Gaiman’s other work. Worth a read, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of my pile.

Book details

ISBN: 9780060515195
Publisher: HarperCollins HarperTorch
Year of publication: 2005

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