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American Gods
Neil Gaiman
William Morrow, 432 pages

American Gods
Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is the author of one of the most critically acclaimed comic books of the decade, the Sandman series from DC Comics. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Angels and Visitations, and the co-author (with Terry Pratchett) of Good Omens. His first anthology was The Sandman Book of Dreams, edited with Ed Kramer. He is the creator and author of the BBC series "Neverwhere," which inspired his novel of the same name. Born in England, he now lives in Minnesota.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Stardust
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions
SF Site Review: Neverwhere
SF Site Review: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
SF Site Review: The Sandman: Book of Dreams

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Where do they go, the monsters of our childhood? After we conjured these boogeymen and solid shadows and beasties under the bed, did we really think they would fade away with our childish fears? Did we expect them to go quietly when we didn't need them anymore? Come to think of it, whoever said we had grown up?

Shadow, betrayed and abandoned by his own personal god, is the perfect liaison in the showdown that is coming. As the gods of our present and future prepare to battle the ancient ones, an empty shell like Shadow may well be the safest thing to be. If, that is, there is any place on Earth that is safe. Some of the places in which our hollow hero is about to find himself don't even appear on any of our maps. On every step along the journey he will suffer for our perceived sins.

Dark though the subject matter may be, American Gods is easily Gaiman's most amusing and entertaining work since Good Omens, his brilliant collaboration with Terry Pratchett. Interestingly, there are some plot points in common between the two novels -- here is clearly a theme that Gaiman tackles with glee and aplomb. If his name is not a household word yet, this book could well be the one that lands him that status.

American Gods has "Hollywood" written all over it. In the best sense possible.

The scope of this novel is reminiscent of King's The Stand, without the gratuitous 100,000 words here and there. Gaiman's command of language allows him to flesh out a character, build a setting, establish a mood, with a few dazzling, concise brush strokes. His artistry is such that, throughout the book there are phrases and passages that arrest the reader; words that deserve to be pulled out as a quote, an example of how we all wish we wrote. Or, how we wish all fiction could be written.

In a genre where cutting-edge has come to mean more graphic, more shocking, more disturbing, Gaiman represents the finest of another force in dark fantasy. While he does not flinch from violence and gore, neither does he depend upon it to carry his work. Many have said that Gaiman is the new face of horror fiction -- who could ask for a better poster-child?

American Gods is a dark, mesmerising adventure into the innermost reaches of the human heart and mind. The characters we meet along the way are distinctive and unforgettable, aspects of our own fears, desires, and weaknesses. What are they, really? Gods? Figments of our imagination? The only one who can decide that is you. Read Gaiman at his best and come to your own conclusions.

When the time comes for awards for 2001, expect to see this novel on every short list, if not in the winner's slot itself. Hard as it may be to believe, Gaiman has managed to top himself with a story that merits the label of classic.

Copyright © 2001 Lisa DuMond

In between reviews, articles, and interviews, Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. DARKERS, her latest novel, was published in August 2000 by Hard Shell Word Factory. She has also written for BOOKPAGE and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. Her articles and short stories are all over the map. You can check out Lisa and her work at her website hikeeba!.

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