Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review: 'Anansi Boys' by Neil Gaiman

Outside of the short form, this is the most genre fiction I've read in years!

Book Review: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

So much literature ends in tragedy and I was in need of something lighter so possibly the timing of the read affected my take on Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. It is now my favourite Gaiman novel (with Neverwhere) and I was told by a well-read friend at Planet Books that Anansi Boys was his worst: definitive proof that reading is in the eye of the beholder.

Fat Charlie is your regular Joe: slightly unhappy and plodding through life as an honest accountant for a weasel-like boss. He lives in England and is engaged to Rosie, in a comfortable but sparkless relationship.

Charlie’s youth, with his then together family, was a brief but colourful time in New Orleans. His father was a prankster with who he hasn’t endeavoured to communicate with since he and his mother left for England many years ago.

After being pressured by his do-gooder fiancé to rebuild his family ties before their wedding, Charlie finds out that his father is dead. It further unravels that his dad was a trickster storyteller God of some note and to make things more interesting, Fat Charlie discovers that he has a brother who seems to have taken after his father. That brother, Spider, arrives on his doorstep and Charlie's life begins to take on colour: both horrific, exciting and comical.

Neil Gaiman tells a great story here. The various threads are delightfully woven in a well-structured novel. It kept me smiling throughout with its larger than life characters. Gaiman’s language matches their playfulness in a gripping story.

Anansi Boys is on the lighter side, without being too silly or overly farcical. It’s simply  fun, something akin to an extended bedtime tale. It was more entertaining than the much lauded American Gods (which I still liked). If you’re after a witty chromatic read, then Anansi Boys is for you.

I found it a joy. It will have you singing too!


  1. My favourite Neil Gaiman work was his comic book series The Sandman. A great read.

  2. Hey, Anthony,

    Anansi Boys is my favorite Gaiman novel too! I was really impressed with the way he manipulated the point of view to build tension not only between the brothers, Charlie and Spider, but in the reader too. I found myself wanting to yell at Fat Charlie when he was misunderstanding Spider's motives.

    I also found the African Anansi mythology aspect really nicely done, and thought the scenes in which Charlie merged the worlds through the power of song to alter reality were amazingly clever.

    You've made me want to read it again!



  3. Hi Nick. I haven't read The Sandman comics but they do have a massive cult following. I'll have to pick one up someday.

    Thanks Mark. And I agree the African Anansi mythology aspect worked beautifully. Nice to read something fun too for a change. Saw that you have a new story out. Congrats. Still remember the one in Andromeda #50 fondly.

  4. Very kind of you to say so, Anthony...