Fat Charlie Nancy’s life is pretty normal, until the day his father drops dead in a karaoke bar. Returning from London to Florida for the funeral, Fat Charlie makes a series of unexpected discoveries, including that his father was a god, and that he has a secret brother he never knew about. Fat Charlie unwittingly invites his brother, Spider, into his life only for him to decide to take it over completely, leaving Fat Charlie with little option but to take drastic measures to get his flat, his fiancé, and his life back.
I really loved Anansi Boys. I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan, and I think this might be my favourite yet. I had read American Gods before this, so I was familiar with Anansi already, but that is my no means necessary. This is NOT a sequel to American Gods, and the fact that Anansi appears in both is the only real link between the two.
The characters are excellent (as Gaiman’s characters usually are). I really liked Fat Charlie, and the way his confidence and personality grew throughout the story was very effective and realistic. Spider, Daisy, Rosie and her mum were all also brilliant, but the other top stand-out characters for me were definitely Maeve and Mrs Higgler.
The way race is represented in this book is, in my opinion, incredibly well done. All the main characters are black, but this isn’t explicitly mentioned for most of the book. Instead, it’s implied through their language and behaviours. I really liked that the protagonists were black without it being a gimmick or key plot feature (beyond the context of Anansi being an African god).
The plot isn’t particularly epic or fantastical. It is, essentially, one man trying to solve the problem of his charismatic brother, but with some mythology and magic thrown in. The magical aspect of this book is particularly good. I loved the way Spider’s magic worked; with things being a certain way or people thinking things just because he says so. He isn’t casting spells or really ‘doing magic’ as such, but he’s the son of a god, so if he says something is so then it must be.
I 100% recommend Anansi Boys to all Gaiman fans, fantasy or mythology fans, and all fiction readers in general. It’s Gaiman at his best, with all the thought-provoking depth of American Gods but much lighter and more humorous.
Finally, I read the version illustrated by Daniel Egneus, and the visuals are stunning. They complement the style and the story so incredibly well, I definitely recommend reading this particular version.