"Days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break."
The immigrants brought their ancient Gods with them to America: The Irish Leprechauns, the Egyptian Ibis and Anubis, Indian Rakshasas, Papa Legba and Baron Samedi from Africa and various other Greek and European Gods and Godesses. In time people forgot their old Gods, didn't bring any more sacrifices and they were left to themselves. Then there came new Gods who were worshipped: TV, consumerism and technology. Now a crucial battle is fought among the Gods. Are the old Gods able to unify and fight together against the new Gods? Or are they too weak and tired because they have been neglected for so long?In the center of this fight is Shadow, an ex-convict, whose real part in the story will be clear only at the end. Before he can meet again his wife Laura after being released from prison she dies mysteriously. But she doesn't seem to be really dead, otherwise she wouldn't appear from time to time and talk to Shadow.
Beyond that he is hired by Mr. Wednesday to work for him as a bodyguard - an offer he just can't refuse. And while Mr. Wednesday tries to unite the old Gods, Shadow sees and hears things he wouldn't have thought possible. The novel is long, complex and very "European". The interlocking storylines are not easy to understand in the beginning. The passages with Shadow and Laura are very beautiful, even though Laura is decaying more and more. It's strange that Gaiman doesn't use any Roman Gods even though almost every other culture is represented in the story. But just the idea of the novel of Gods being real and coming together to fight is so fascinating that it should be enough to give the book a chance.
[Dorothée Büttgen, April 03]
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