(2001) Neil Gaiman, Headline, £10.00, pbk, 504pp, ISBN 0-7472-7417-7
Two days before Shadow is to be released from prison his wife, Laura, is killed in a car crash along with his best friend. On the outside with no job and nowhere to go Shadow meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who offers him a position as driver and minder. Together they journey across America seeking recruits for a strange war. The time of the old gods is past, and America's new idols are seeking a showdown for the hearts and minds of the people. A storm is brewing, one that will shake the very foundations of belief and Shadow, dogged by his dead wife, is caught in the middle.
Gaiman takes the reader on a fantastic journey through myth and legend, while telling the very personal story of Shadow and his quest for inner knowledge. As a modern fantasist, Gaiman stunned the world with his Sandman graphic novel sequence and other works such as Stardust (with Charles Vess). Since then he has proved himself a master of the short story and broke into television with Neverwhere for the BBC (also a novel). This gripping mix of the mythic and the mundane is every bit as compelling and should propel him to the top rank of novelists. Britain has long been aware of Gaiman's huge talent and, hopefully, this will introduce him to a much wider audience.
Elsewhere on this site Neil has an article on modern life archived from its original publication in 1990, back in our inaugural decade when we were a print fanzine.
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