Published: April 4 2002
Number of pages: 588
Genre: urban fantasy, gods, myths, mystery
Audience: older adults (mature language, violence, rape)
Rating: 4/5 owl hoots
After Shadow is released from prison, he wants nothing more then to return to his quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that his wife died in an accident. Flying home after the funeral, Shadow meets with a mysterious stranger named Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow’s past than is possible. Wednesday warns him that a big storm is coming and things will never be the same for him.
What can I say about this story? I can say that it’s about an ex convict named Shadow who meets a stranger named Wednesday, and they go on a road trip together where they meet old and new gods. But that is just scratching the surface as you really have to read it to understand the tiny details that make up the entirety of the story. I am no stranger to Neil Gaiman as I have read The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Stardust but those where short compared to this 500-page novel! This was the most bizarre story I read this year as a lot of weird (and disturbing) moments happen in the plot. There is also a HUGE cast of characters, many of them old gods; I googled their names to understand who and where they came from.
It took a looonnng time for me to get into the story as it starts really slow and things didn’t progress until the last 10 chapters. Before that it felt like I was just going for the ride with Shadow and Wednesday to see what happened next. After Shadow is released from prison, he returns home to be reunited with his wife and plans to get a job. But after tragedy, hits Shadow meets a stranger who calls himself Wednesday and offers him a job to work for him. After Shadow accepts his proposal, things spiral out of control (literally).
I was really taken aback with Shadow’s character. If I were offered a job which requires not asking questions and obeying orders, I would be very suspicious about the boss. However Shadow just nods an agreement to Wednesday and follows his orders, which had me curious because a lot of the errands he does for him was questionable (and illegal), so I was surprised that Shadow didn’t ask anything. I also had a hard time understanding the relationship between Shadow and Wednesday, two men carrying secrets and a mysterious past. It didn’t make sense as to how Wednesday knew Shadow in the beginning and at first, I thought they were just two friends going for a road trip together, but as the plot progresses you get the feeling that there is a much deeper link between the two. Although that isn’t explained until the final chapters where the story wrapped up with an incredible WTF plot twist that had me in complete shock!
Laura played an incredible role in this story and even a significant part towards the end when she helped Shadow survive. I loved how she watched over him and took care of Shadow during difficult times despite what she did to him while he was in prison. I read stories containing a large cast of characters and sometimes it can be convoluting, but Neil still manages to hold the plot together without us getting completely lost in the story. There were also quite a few violent and sexually explicit scenes that I thought were unsettling, but I still found myself turning the page just to see what Shadow was going to do next. There is something about his character that makes him so dark and mysterious that you want to learn more about him, which is why I was determined to finish the book and to figure out his motives for helping the gods.
This is one of those stories that take you along for the ride so you have to be patient before anything good happens. I can see why people would find this daunting to read as the story keeps dragging on and on with so many sub plots that you begin to lose interest of the story. But for me this was a memorable story with a great cast of characters and an unbelievable plot twist that made reading this worthwhile.