Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is billed as a sort-of sequel to American Gods, but it really isn’t. I suppose it could be considered to be set in the same world, but it’s just as easy to imagine it set in the same world as Neverwhere or The Sandman — that is, it’s basically our world with magic and old gods. Apart from that setting, though, it has nothing in common with Gaiman’s earlier novel.

For one thing, it’s lightly comedic, rather than epic. This turns out to be for the better, I think. Make no mistake: I’m a fan of the epic, and Gaiman’s Sandman series is one of the better epics around; but he’s never been able to successfully transfer his epic-writing skills to prose. American Gods is a very good novel, but it’s got its serious flaws. Anansi Boys probably has its flaws, too, but they’re less obtrusive, and I don’t care as much, because it’s a lot of fun — it reads like a combination of Dave Barry’s novels with Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently stuff, but with Gaiman’s distinctive spin.

This is still just a very good, rather than great, novel; but it’s probably Gaiman’s best, which is a good sign for future output.


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