Finishing a good work of fiction is always sad for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s an anime, a short story or, pertinent to this case, a novel. It was the case with Where the Crawdads Sing and certainly the case with the Dutch House. Unfortunately, American Gods didn’t elicit that sense of wonder or yearning when I read the last word. Don’t get me wrong, the book was fascinating, but there was no pang of longing as I left the world of the walking gods.
It was certainly an epic in every sense of the word: gods and men fighting, fantastical beings, themes of sacrifice and honor, and, since I was reading the special edition, some 600 pages of writing. The prose was solid, and at points, remarkably beautiful, but the most poignant passages were not about our protagonist Shadow, but rather describing tales of how gods wondered onto America. There was a fascinating short story about about how the first god arrived onto the new world through the Bering strait. Another interlude described the atrocities of the slave trade, and the subsequent transplanting of African traditions to Haiti and New Orleans.
I reckon it’s the measly amount of world building that Gaiman did that caused the disinterest. As someone who enjoys the superhero franchises, the premise is absolutely enticing for me. What powers would they have? Can they influence major world events? Is there going to be a tier list of gods somewhere on YouTube? But I didn’t as much as bat an eye at the feats of gods from the book. Most of the gods were more a plot vehicle, rather than a focus of development, and i would love to have read the opposite of that. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Stan Lee and the Russo brothers.
The book did make me want to start up coin magic, so there’s that.