My rating: ★★★☆☆
I liked to think that I’m a self-proclaimed mythology buff.
This book has put me in my place.
EDIT: There are some BEAUTIFUL hard copy editions of a bunch of Neil Gaiman’s books and they DESTROY ME. GO GET YOUR HANDS ON THEM BEFORE I BUY THEM ALL.
A friend of mine recommended this to me immediately after finding out ‘just how nerdy I was’, and suggested that it would be right up my alley. He then said he couldn’t really tell me what it was about, and that the blurb doesn’t really do it justice, to which I tend to agree.
A storm is coming…
Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.
But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.
Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.
There isn’t really much of a story, bar the beginning and end, and there was most certainly a point where I realised I had no fucking idea what was happening anymore. I did, thankfully, find a website (SPOILERS) which explained a lot of the links and definitely made the ride less confusing. I will give Gaiman props for writing a story with double, quadruple, infinitybillion meanings while still having it be comprehensible one way or another.
Gaiman’s writing is fantastically descriptive, giving it that almost surreal feeling of a Murakami novel. In saying that, between the different mythological references (that I had to keep looking up), there were also a lot of references to American locations and culture, which made it kind of difficult for me to reach that sweet immersion point. Getting through this one was definitely a slow burn, but an enjoyable one at that.
If you don’t know your basic Norse, Greek, Egyptian mythologies, then I’d recommend to give this one a pass. But if you are interested in learning, this may be the kick in the butt you need (it was for me!).