Title: Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Lenny Henry
First line: It begins, as most things begin, with a song.
Neil Gaiman should definitely read his own books for the audio versions. But, if he’s too busy, Lenny Henry is wonderful, too.
Gaiman’s Anansi Boys is the story of Fat Charlie Nancy. He’s an accountant living in London, happily engaged to Rosie Noah (though not thrilled about his future mother-in-law), and planning his wedding. He’s not discontented, but he should be, because his life is incredibly boring.
While planning the wedding, he learns that his father has died, and at the funeral – presided over by three hilarious old ladies: Mrs. Higgler, Mrs. Dunwiddy, and Mrs. Bustamonte – he is told that his father was a god, Anansi, and that he has a brother. Mrs. Higgler tells him that if he wants to get in touch with his brother, he should tell a spider. One night, Fat Charlie does just that – and the chaos ensues.
You never know what you’re going to get when you read a Gaiman book. Neverwhere is wonderful: dark, foggy, and damp, like the London underground the novel inhabits. Coraline is a creepy, scary story that thrilled the kids and I when I read it aloud. His short stories are horrific, fantastical, humorous, and sly, depending on which one you’re reading.
Anansi Boys is hilarious, bright, and mythical. It takes the old Anansi stories, about the trickster spider, and weaves them into our modern world. The result is often laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are richly drawn, and I won’t soon forget the severe Mrs. Noah, the spunky Maeve Livingstone, the slimy and evil Graem Coates, and police detective Daisy, with her frequent exclamation of “Bless!”
You can listen to a snippet of Henry reading Anansi Boys at Neil Gaiman’s blog – follow this link.