This Fairytale is Not for Kids
New / Old Flames are our favorite books – the ones we really think you’ll love too.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Reviewed by Karen
As a youth services librarian, I have long been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s children’s books, but never read his novels for adults. As many of my friends have raved about “American Gods,” I decided to start there.
In “American Gods,” Gaiman takes the old world’s gods and deftly interweaves them with America’s new world gods: technology, television, etc. Lack of belief has eroded the old gods’ power, and lead to a war between the old and new. The book starts with a seemingly ordinary man, purposeless after his release from prison – until he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job and leads him deep into the heart of the gods’ hidden war.
I’ve always been fascinated with folklore and fairytales, and with every new chapter there was another character I recognized, but couldn’t quite pin down. Why did Czernobog and Bielobog sound so familiar? And what about Hinzelmann? Trying to find the connections was a mystery in itself. When I had the “aha” moments that revealed Czernobog and Bielobog, it was like remembering a life I’d forgotten – my years in Ukraine. And Hinzelmann brought back the German stories my grandfather told me when I was a little girl.
But you don’t have to have lived abroad or be well-versed in folklore to enjoy “American Gods.” While few readers are likely to catch all of the references, trying to figure them out – and learning more about Indian, Chinese, Middle Easter, Norse or Native American lore – is half the fun! And Gaiman’s use of obscure Americana like The House on the Rock is compelling, as the author visited each location he uses in the story.
I should be clear that “American Gods” is no kid’s book. Despite the folklore story line, some scenes are shockingly graphic. So if this book isn’t for you, I can heartily endorse all of his work for children and teens – they’re great for adults, too.