FSFH Book Review

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Abnett, Dan
Adams, Douglas
Aguirre-Sacasa, Roberto
Allen, Roger MacBride
Allie, Scott
Allston, Aaron
Anderson, Kevin J.
Barclay, James
Barnes, Steven
Baum, L. Frank
Bear, Greg
Bendis, Brian Michael
Bischoff, David
Bisson, Terry
Blackman, Haden
Bova, Ben
Bowen, Carl
Brooks, Terry
Canavan, Trudi
Card, Orson Scott
Chadwick, Paul
Clarke, Arthur C.
Clarke, Susanna
Clemens, James
Collins, Paul
Crichton, Michael
Crispin, A. C.
Cunningham, Elaine
Daley, Brian
David, Peter
DeMatteis, J. M.
Denning, Troy
Dick, Philip K.
Dickens, Charles
Dietz, William C.
Dixon, Chuck
Donaldson, Stephen
Eddings, David
Edginton, Ian
Elrod, P. N.
Erikson, Steven
Feist, Raymond E.
Foster, Alan Dean
Fraction, Matt
Furman, Simon
Gaiman, Neil
Gemmell, David A.
Gerber, Michael
Gibbons, Dave
Golden, Christopher
Goodkind, Terry
Goodwin, Archie
Graham, Mitchell
Grant, Alan
Green, Jonathan
Green, Laurence
Guggenheim, Marc
Hagberg, David
Hambly, Barbara
Hamilton, Laurell K.
Hand, Elizabeth
Harras, Bob
Harrison, Mick
Heinlein, Robert A.
Herbert, Frank
Herbert, James
Hine, David
Hobb, Robin
Howard, Robert E.
Jacques, Brian
James, Charlie Hamilton
Jenkins, Paul
Jeter, K. W.
Johns, Geoff
Jones, J. V.
Jordan, Robert
Jurgens, Dan
Karpyshyn, Drew
Kennedy, Mike
Kerr, Katharine
Keyes, Greg
King, Stephen
King, William
Knaak, Richard A.
Kube-McDowell, Michael P.
Lawhead, Stephen
Layman, John
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lewis, C. S.
Lieberman, A. J.
Loeb, Jeph
Lorey, Dean
Lowder, James
Luceno, James
Lumley, Brian
Macan, Darko
Manning, Russ
Martin, George R. R.
Marz, Ron
Matheson, Richard
McCaffrey, Anne
McIntosh, Neil
McIntyre, Vonda
Michelinie, David
Millar, Mark
Miller, John Jackson
Miller, Karen
Milligan, Peter
Moench, Doug
Moesta, Rebecca
Moore, Alan
Nicholls, Stan
Nicieza, Fabian
Nylund, Eric
O'Neil, Dennis
Ostrander, John
Paolini, Christopher
Perry, S. D.
Perry, Steve
Pratchett, Terry
Pullman, Philip
Quinn, David
Reaves, Michael
Reed, A. W.
Reed, Brian
Rice, Anne
Richardson, Nancy
Roberts, Adam
Rowe, Matthew
Rowling, J. K.
Rubio, Kevin
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn
Salvatore, R.A.
Shelley, Mary
Shultz, Mark
Simone, Gail
Simonson, Louise
Simonson, Walter
Smith, L. Neil
Spurrier, Simon
Stackpole, Michael A.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Stewart, Sean
Stoker, Bram
Stover, Matthew
Straczynski, J. Michael
Stradley, Randy
Strnad, Jan
Sutcliff, Rosemary
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Traviss, Karen
Truman, Tim
Turtledove, Harry
Tyers, Kathy
van Belkom, Edo
Veitch, Tom
Wagner, John
Watson, Jude
Whitman, John
Williams, Sean
Williams, Tad
Williams, Walter Jon
Windham, Ryder
Wolverton, Dave
Woodring, Jim
Wurts, Janny
Yeovil, Jack
Zahn, Timothy
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Reviewing Literature
The Books of Neil Gaiman

Perhaps best known for his comic books, Neil Gaiman has also become an award winning novelist.  He was born in England but now lives in America.
Average Review Score: 5 out of 5

American Gods
This is the story of Shadow, who is released from prison following his wife's death and finds himself in the employ of a man named Wednesday.  As Shadow and Wednesday travel across America, another world is revealed.  Scraping a living among the people of the modern world are old gods, brought to America in the beliefs of settlers and slaves.  These ancient gods, their power waning as they are forgotten, find themselves threatened by the young gods of modern America, gods of TV and technology.  This is a book which meanders, and Gaiman clearly feels that the journey is far more important than the destination.  In this case I agree, but if you don't, then don't worry because despite it's meandering, the book builds towards the battle between the old gods and the new.  Of the new gods, my favourite element was the spooks, sinister Men-in-Black type characters who represent the height of modern mythology.  However, it is Shadow's encounters with the old gods that makes for the most compelling reading.  They range from Odin to the spider-god Anansi to the Egyptian gods of death and the underworld.  I was only sorry that my insufficent understanding of mythology meant that I didn't understand some of Gaiman's more subtle references.  There are also some brilliantly written interludes which reveal how some of these older gods first arrived in America, telling stories of Viking explorers, stone age nomads, African slaves and Cornish thieves.  In short, this book contains it's own mythology, whilst being about the concept of that mythology itself.  At surface level this book is a brilliant story of magic, deception and human nature, but look a little deeper and you'll see that every page is riddled with fascinating metaphors.
5 out of 5
'Shadow had done three years in prison.'
Anansi Boys
A sort-of sequel to 'American Gods'.  However, here the main protagonist is not the world-weary Shadow but is the more mundane, and therefore accessible, Charles Nancy aka Fat Charlie.  That is perhaps the most significant difference between the two books; Charlie is a character who is far easier to imagine ourselves in the shoes of.  His fiancee's mother hates him, he has a job he hates working for a prick of a boss and he is unusually susceptible to public embarrassment.  His life changes when his estranged father dies and the brother he never knew he had, Spider, decides to visit.  Slowly Spider takes over his life and Charlie begins to realise that there is something unnatural in his family.  Charlie's introduction to the world of gods beneath the surface of our own world is every bit as compelling as Shadow's was, but here's it's more personal as it costs him everything he once valued.  I particularly enjoyed the turbulent relationship between Charlie and Spider, as there are echoes of every fraternal relationship, from the rolling on the floor pummelling one another to the standing together to face a shared danger.  Before I read it I'd heard this was a more child-friendly story, but don't be fooled, this is every bit as adult emotionally-speaking as the previous book.  Although everyone does live happily every after here.  Overall another astonishing book from a master storyteller, not better or worse than 'American Gods', just different.
5 out of 5
'It begins, as most things begin, with a song.'
The adventurous girl Coraline decides to explore the mysterious mirror-world beyond a locked door in her new home, only to discover something malevolent waiting to trap her on the other side.  This book is the perfect dark fairy tale, with a plucky young heroine finding herself matching wits with a subtle and evil creature in a world where anything can change, usually for the worse.  I loved the concept of the creature beyond the door, 'the other mother', which seeks to trap Coraline in order to love her but which mistakes covetousness for love.  There is some genuine horror in this book, but it is always tempered by the childlike courage and empathy of the main character.  Gaiman has managed to catch a dark dream and turn it into one of the best fairy tales I've ever read.
5 out of 5
'Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house'.
In order to win the heart of the most beautiful girl in the village of Wall, Tristran Thorn crosses into the world of Faerie to recover a fallen star.  Purists may be annoyed to learn that it was watching the film adaption (which I loved, by the way) that made me choose to read this book in the first place, so it's hard to review the book without being affected by the film.  However, the two are by no means the same.  Here Gaiman uses his incredible imagination to produce wonders with his characteristic dark undertones.  It is the depth of the world of Faerie that is this book's greatest strength, the sense that there's much more going on offscreen, as it were.  The author has written the book as an Edwardian fairy tale, but that doesn't really do justice to what is presented here, which is full of subtlety, metaphor and magic.  As ever Gaiman's prose is smooth and endearing making this book a pleasure to read.  My only disappointment was that the romance (which had so perfectly tapped into my own romantic side whilst watching the film) isn't nearly as prominent as I would have liked.
5 out of 5
'There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart's Desire.'

If you liked Gaiman:
Then you may also enjoy some of Stephen King's books ('The Stand' or the Dark Tower novels) or perhaps the work of Philip Pullman.

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