Top positive review
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Angels and Mortals
on 8 July 2017
Reading this novel a second time after more than 15 years does make for an enriching experience. I am made even more aware of Gaiman’s mastery of Nordic mythology and marvel at the way he has melded both the stories of folkloric gods and the lost luster of contemporary America. Bearing in mind the spate of superhero movies that sees these Nordic gods battling it out and wreaking havoc in America mostly came after Gaiman’s book reminds the reader how much of a forerunner the author is.
Almost every character in this expansive work has a backstory and surprising connection to a mythical god and they form part of this alternative universe that main protagonist Shadow lands himself in after being let out of prison just a few days ahead of finishing his sentence for a grisly reason. He lands a job with a grifter and master conman Wednesday, who leads him on a psychedelic cross country quest that is as wild as Dorothy’s journey to the Emerald City laced with acid.
The consequences of lost faith on the fortunes of gods who lose their significance are presented in a darkly humorous and allegorical way that only Gaiman knows how. Shadow finds out the true god identity of a former cell mate who explains his fallen mortal state: “You got to understand the god thing. It's not magic. Not exactly…. You take all the belief, all the prayers and they become a kind of certainty, something that lets you become bigger, cooler, more than human…. And then one day they forget about you, and they don't sacrifice, and they don't care, and the next thing you know you're running a three card monte game on the corner of Broadway and 43rd”.
Richly entertaining and mystical - definitely worth the revisit.