Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Book 45 of 2014: Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

If you're visiting as part of the A to Z Challenge, my challenge post went live this morning. Click here to see it.

I’m ashamed to say I’ve only read a handful of Neil Gaiman’s novels, which is a real shame because I love his books. I don’t think there’s a single one that I’ve read and not enjoyed. So far I’ve read The Graveyard Book, Stardust, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and then last year in November I finally got around to reading Anansi Boys.

This one tells the story of Fat Charlie whose father dies and turns his whole world upside down. It turns out that his father was actually Anansi, the spider god. Oh and he has a brother, named Spider, who he didn’t know he had. Spider decides to come and stay, then slowly take over Fat Charlie’s life, including his job, his girlfriend and his flat. It’s all a bit much for Charlie, until he snaps and decides to play Spider at the same game in order to get his life back.

I picked my copy of Anansi Boys in Oban when we went up there for my birthday. It was dead cheap and as soon as I saw it I decided to treat myself. Even though it has a picture of a spider on the spine and front cover which made me cringe. I set it to one side to tackle at some point in the future and then after reading, and loving, The Ocean at the End of the Lane I decided I had to give it a go.

At first I wasn’t so sure what to think of it. It’s not one of my favourite Neil Gaiman books, but I’m not sure many can hold a torch to Ocean which at the moment is my all time favourites. However the more I read it the more I got into it. Spiders and all. I have to admit that in the beginning one of my main problems with the book was the massive spider on the cover. I would have to leave it face down on my bedside table until I got used to it and it stopped freaking me out.

I also love the whole magic realism thing and no one does it like Neil Gaiman. It was great the way it all tied into the story. I liked the way that once you got into the story you kind of forgot all the weird magical stuff and just accepted it. I got to the point where it was perfectly believable that Fat Charlie’s dad was the spider god, Anansi.

The story seemed to have a lot of independent threads including Fat Charlie’s girlfriend, Spider, Fat Charlie’s boss and the woman Fat Charlie’s boss was scamming. In the beginning they seemed to be very much separate with just slight areas of overlap, but then they slowly came together making for a pretty exciting conclusion. In that respect it kind of reminded me of Terry Pratchett in a way – there were even footnotes!

My copy of this book had an interview with Neil Gaiman at the end of the story. I love it when books do that since it’s kind of like the special features you get on DVDs and blu-rays. The ‘special features’ in this book have Gaiman talking about writing the story as well as telling an amusing story about his experiences with spiders.

I’d definitely recommend it, though maybe not this edition if you’re like me and spiders make you a bit twitchy.


  1. Many people have told me how wonderful Neil Gaiman is, but I have to confess I've never read of any of his books. Which one of his would you recommend for someone who has never read anything by him before? Cheers - Ellen

    1. I'd definitely recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane or The Graveyard Book as good first time reads. The Graveyard Book was my first Neil Gaiman book and that sucked me into his way of writing; but The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of his best and that's my favourite. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)