Genre: Urban fantasy, mythology
Narrative Style: Third person from multiple viewpoints.
Synopsis: Fat Charlie has a fairly ordinary life. He is about to get married to a woman he is not sure he loves. He has a job that he neither loves nor hates. He is happy enough. Then his father dies and his world is turned upside down. His father, it turns out, is a God and, even more surprising, he has a brother he doesn’t know about.
Time on shelf: A couple of years. I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick it up. I knew it would be good. In fact, that was why I picked it up now. I’d read a couple of not so great books and I knew this would please me.
Reading Challenges: TBR Challenge 2022
This was, as you might expect, an absolute treat. Gaiman blends real life and mythology perfectly. Fat Charlie is an ordinary man facing extraordinary circumstances and it is very easy to empathise with him when his life starts to fall apart. His brother, Spider is a God who is used to manipulating everyone and consequently getting his own way. They are poles apart at the start.
When Fat Charlie (a name given him by his father which he has not been able to escape) realises that his father is dead, his memories of him are of all the mean jokes he played on him. He knows that things won’t be straight forward. However, he wasn’t expecting to discover a brother he didn’t remember he had. He has terrible luck and is late for his father’s funeral. Life swirls round him. Out of sheer desperation, he finally calls for his brother by telling a spider he wants him. An act he soon begins to rue.
When his brother, Spider, arrives, things start to go wrong for Fat Charlie. Spider takes a shine to Fat Charlie’s fiancé and uses his godly power to impress her. Spider goes to work instead of Fat Charlie, who is too hungover, and causes issues that lead to Fat Charlie being accused of stealing from his boss. Even though Fat Charlie meets a woman he is much more suited to, he hasn’t the confidence to change the direction of his life. Although he doesn’t realise it straight away, Spider actually does him a favour by falling in love with his fiancé because he changes the course of Charlie’s life.
It’s when he decides that he wants to get rid of Spider that things get a bit darker. Charlie makes a deal with a bird God to get rid of Spider, not realising he is also putting himself in danger. At the beginning, Spider is charming and Charlie is a bit pathetic. As the novel progresses, they start to become more like each other. Spider falls desperately in love with Charlie’s fiance. Charlie learns that he can sing and as a result, charm entire audiences. They both become more well rounded as people
I could find no fault with this. The story trots along nicely, with humour, with romance and with adventure. The characters are well drawn and interesting. The African mythology fits seamlessly with the modern story. Another hit from a master of the craft.