Science fiction and fantasy
by Neil Gaiman
Charlie's an unassuming accountant who hasn't advanced far in his career at the Grahame Coats Agency. His boss walks all over him, and his fiancées mother doesn't approve of him. But these are things Fat Charlie can put up with. What he can't stand is Spider moving in with him, taking over his life, and turning everything upside-down.
Fat Charlie wants Spider to leave. But how can he get rid of an overconfident sibling who seems to have inherited all of his father's godlike powers, whilst Charlie is merely ordinary?
Anansi Boys is an appealing mix of mythology, modern-day crime, and comedy. Fat Charlie is sympathetic because although he's reserved, he's never so shy that it merges into cowardice. Then there are characters like Daisy the enthusiastic policewoman, and old Mrs Higgler the witchy neighbour, and Grahame Coats, who talks almost exclusively in clichés. These people ground the narrative in the believable and everyday, whilst there's always something just a little bit absurd about them. Putting them in the same story as mythical beings such as Tiger and Anansi and the other animal-gods seems eccentric. Yet it works.
Neil Gaiman's confident, inspired prose knits the unexpected into a tale that's both scary and touching. It deals with themes of family life, of grief and embarrassment, of family ties and rivalries, and finding one's own voice. These universal themes contrast with the crazy goings-on of a family affected by the magic of the gods. Anansi Boys is an impressively inventive romp, as tricksy and fun-loving as the spider god himself.
19th May 2010
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Weird things happen when a film crew come to Whitby to remake a cursed horror movie. The fourth Brenda and Effie mystery.
Review © Ros Jackson
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