Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is always a pleasure to read. He is drawn to travelers and tricksters walking the borders between worlds. He likes to dance along the spectrum of deity to mortal to devilish to [un]dead. And Neil Gaiman’s humans cast their own spells, too. There’s a lot of power rooted in blood, family, ritual, place, and making do with what you’ve got.
Anansi Boys tells the story of Fat Charlie Nancy, son of the African trickster god Anansi. After his father’s death, Fat Charlie learns about his brother Spider, who introduces him to his inheritance: the powers of storytelling, confidence, and persuasion. Together they become entangled with gods in their mortal forms, and in another realm where the same gods assume their immortal shapes. It proves a chaotic and treacherous journey, sodden with timeless fable magic.
Gaiman peoples his world with sparkling and bizarre characters. In addition to Fat Charlie and the larger-than-life Spider, there’s Charlie’s fiancee Rosie, constable/programmer Daisy Day, four elderly neighbors with magical know-how, and oily, threatening CEO Grahame Coates. The cockeyed detail work and pithy dialogue made me laugh out loud on several occasions. It’s thrilling to read about a person growing into his birthright, tangling with strange powers so evocative and eccentric, and treading new ground.
The 213 in 2013 series chronicles every book I read in 2013. Each review contains exactly 213 words, because 2013 words is too long and 2013 characters is too dang short.