The Anansi Boys (2005)

by Neil Gaiman

With the fantasy novel The Anansi Boys, British writer Neil Gaiman again summons up mythological figures from diverse cultures and periods, as he did in the hugely successful American Gods (2001). “Fat Charlie” Nancy is a bourgeois guy living a boring life in London until he attends his American father’s funeral. There he learns that his father was the trickster god Anansi and that he has a brother who inherited some of their father’s magical powers.

Charlie also learns how to summon his brother — which he does back in London and soon regrets, for “Spider” is not only the confident, well-liked hunk Charlie would like to be but also a one-man wrecking crew. Spider takes over Charlie’s guest room, puts moves on Charlie’s fiancee, and gets Charlie fired from his job and in trouble with the law.

Charlie asks for the help of witches to make Spider go away, but things go awry, leading the brothers into adventures that are both scary and amusing. Charlie learns that Anansi genes have given him some powers, too.

The Anansi Boys is a crime novel as well as a fantasy, and the real bad guy isn’t Spider but Charlie’s boss, who gets his comeuppance. Most of all it’s a touching buddy story. Charlie learns that the differences between him and Spider needn’t be barriers. It might be said, in fact, that he and Spider are two sides of the same coin.

Entertaining, funny, and heartwarming, The Anansi Boys won the 2006 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature and British and Locus Fantasy Awards for Best Novel.


Home               My reviews               My friends' reviews