Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Headline Review (8 May 2006)
The other of the Neil Gaiman books I read recently, this one is perhaps closest to being a sequel, loosely linked as it is to American Gods. However, the link is minor and Gaiman really has written a stand-alone novel.
It's difficult to talk about this book without revealing some bits which feel like spoilers.
'Fat' Charlie Nancy is a fairly boring person. He's engaged to be married, some time in the future. He's working as an office worker in a theatrical agency in London, when he finds out that his father (who was separated from his mother when Charlie was ten or so) has died, back home in Florida. He flies out to Florida for the funeral, arriving a little late, and is then taken back by his ex-neighbours, old gossipy women who talk about the feckless father. One tells him he used to have a brother (Charlie doesn't remember him) and, even weirder, that his father was a God, an African Trickster God named Anansi.
Back in London later, the brother turns up. And this brother, for a staid, conventional man like Charlie, is both a revelation and a burden, for this brother is everything that Charlie is not - charming, witty, the life and soul of the party. And he's taken over Charlie's spare room, and there's a waterfall and a jungle and stuff in there, and it gets seriously weird.
Gaiman mixes mundane reality (office life) with myth in a way where the boundary isn't immediately obvious. Before the story resolves itself, both Charlie and his brother Spider must change, and there is both innocent betrayal and knowing sacrifice before it all works out. Charlie is the innocent fool - the Parsifal in a way - but this book is about him learning and coming into his power.
As I said last time, it's Neil Gaiman, and I don't think he cares to write anything which isn't superlatively good..