Over the centuries, gods have come to America. From the Norse with Viking explorers, from West Africa with the Slave trade, from the British Isles with immigrants, from Eastern Europe and India and a thousand other places and – of course, from the Native Americans themselves. Gods have arisen, sustained by belief, worship and sacrifice, and they have fallen. Fallen as they lost belief and fallen still further as their very names are forgotten.
But Wednesday is not putting up with falling into obscurity, nor is he allowing the new gods of media and technology to easily brush him and his fellows aside. Employing Shadow, a newly released convict just trying to put his life together after serving his time, Wednesday is determined to rally the old gods lurking in the shadowy corners of the US into a force to fight back.
But it’s not all easy – the new gods are fighting against obsolescence themselves in a country that doesn’t welcome deities – and they’ll kill if they have to. And then there’s Shadow’s ex-wife. Ex because she’s dead, not because he divorced her, who is still hanging around. And, as Shadow plunges deeper into this world of gods and Ifrit and leprechauns, as he learns more about how the world really is, he also finds that Wednesday is far more cunning than he expected.
This is perhaps the most original concept I’ve come across in a long time. The different deities of all kinds, fighting for survival, fighting against new interlopers and even the way deities have had to learn and adapt over the years to integrate into human society. I loved the style of this book, the slow reveal as more and more elements are added to the whole, the slow revelation of what is happening and the powerful depth the world was given. At every turn new layers are added to the world, extra facets and extra depth. All the different ways the old gods reached the US, all the different ways they were worshipped and sacrificed to and how they ultimately ended up as gods in the US. It was a really well built, slowly developed world.
I also had – as a great lover of mythology – lots of fun picking out the gods and recognising them before it became clear who was what. It was fun – and it showed that a truly massive amount of research has gone into this book. The number of different traditions, the number of deities, including some pretty obscure ones, and the amount of knowledge of each one shows a massive amount of reading and familiarity which really impressed me. It gave the world a depth and a richness that far exceeded my expectations, which were already pretty high.