PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods came out in 2001, but with the release of the new Bryan Fuller TV series, The Folio Society have decided to release a new edition to mark the occasion. It’s also the version that contains the author’s preferred version of the text, which means that the bits that were edited out due to commercial concerns have been put back in. So it’s bigger than the original release, but it has still gone through the proper editorial process that makes good books brilliant.

The story itself is a work of genre defining urban fantasy. It’s a tale of old gods who have moved to America, with the same promise and hope that all immigrants carry; the desire for a better existence. Though of course, being gods, they carry a lot of baggage. The novel opens with Shadow, a large, thirty-something man who has just been released from prison. His life shattered, his wife recently deceased, Shadow needs a job. On the road, he meets an old one-eyed man called Mr. Wednesday. Who is, of course, a very old god of the Norse variety, not that Shadow really has a clue.

Our protagonist quickly becomes embroiled in the in-fighting of these old gods on this new land. Gaiman’s writing is powerful and tight; he weaves a new American mythology out of the ashes of history and tells a compelling and chilling thriller throughout. It’s blisteringly good, Shadow is an interesting, tragic and cleverly created character, and the growing cast of gods and other things are equally staggering.

This is, of course, a very special edition. The Folio Society specialise in making lovely books that you will treasure. For those who care, it’s bound in cloth and the font is set in Maxime with Wicked Grit. It’s a slipcase with the cover blocked by the artist. Who happens to be Dave McKean; the chap who worked so closely with Neil Gaiman on The Sandman and still produces some of the most amazing art to this day. The book contains 12 key illustrations from McKean, each of them punctuating the text perfectly. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous thing and embraces this groundbreaking story perfectly.

If you haven’t read American Gods, you should pick it up, it’s perfect Urban Fantasy. If you do own American Gods and your old paperback is getting tatty, then you’ll want the Folio Society version so you can keep it forever.

*Carousel Illustration by Dave McKean (American Gods, The Folio Society Edition) 


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