Today is the 19th anniversary of the publication of ‘American Gods’ by Neil Gaiman, and its themes and characters have only become more potent with each passing year. Following a former convict named Shadow, whose wife and best friend died only days before his release, the listless Shadow accepts a job as a bodyguard from an enigmatic figure named Mr. Wednesday, plunging him into a strange road trip across America where Shadow will be in the middle of a war between the Old Gods and New.
This book often touches on themes of mythology and belief and the power of change, which pits the new and old gods against each other for power. It truly depicts the contrasting ideals and beliefs that make up America and the modern world. If you’re hungry for more books like these, then these five are sure to satisfy.
5. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break – Steven Sherrill
After thousands of years, the mythological half man half bull finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook in a steakhouse. Instead of the monster that plagued the labyrinth, he is a rather lonely creature that is distanced from the rest of society. Despite all of this, a possibility of love and happiness awaits him, but will he take it?
4. Fool on the Hill – Matt Ruff
Set in a fantastical version of Cornell College, writer-in-residence Stephen George Titus sets out to find inspiration in the form of two women, however another writer and semi-god Mr. Sunshine, has other ideas when he sees Titus as the perfect hero for his long-running epic.
3. The Salt Roads – Nalo Hopkinson
Set in 1804 on the island of Saint Domingue (Haiti) a group of women bury a stillborn baby, inadvertently release the Afro-Caribbean goddess of love, Ezili. She then inhabits several bodies in different times and places, all of them suffering in a hostile world and unaware of the goddess’ presence. The ‘Salt Road’ is made of blood, sweat, and tears of three particular women, but with struggle comes strength and inner power.
2. Saffron and Brimstone – Elizabeth Hand
A collection of short stories, supernatural creatures and magic are tied to real world occurrences and objects. An angel of death is born after a traumatic event, tarot cards give powers to a tattoo artist, and an artist attempts to capture a mythological-like character with her art. This combines natural and supernatural worlds with magical elements with real and human themes that are sure to ring true to everyone.
- The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles) – Patrick Rothfuss
George R. R Martin called it, “The best epic fantasy I read last year,” so if that doesn’t get you started on it, nothing will. The hero, or villain, depending on how you see him, Kvothe tells his life story to the Chronicler, detailing tales of the wicked Chandrian and a mysterious power called ‘The Wind.’ Gods have power because of the stories humans tell and combined with the ancient art of story telling, this makes for a powerful and enjoyable read.