American Gods by Neil Gaiman is many things. It is a road trip novel. It is a mystery, a thriller. It is in parts horrific, and in many ways beautiful. It is a story of modern mythology, set in a changing America still heavily populated by the gods of old worlds. And a few new gods as well.
We meet our protagonist Shadow in prison, shortly before he is released. He seems so simple on the outside, a strong man just doing his time and keeping his head down. Once he gets out and meets the mysterious man in a pale suit called Wednesday, his life will never be simple again.
I love the diverse mythologies woven into this universe. There are journal entries between chapters explaining the origins of various gods in America, gods who traveled from regal Egypt and icy Norway to rural towns in Illinois and Wisconsin, nestled deep in the hearts of those who believed in them. I especially liked the prominent placement of The House on the Rock, a crazy museum/huge diorama/creepshow that I visited myself when I was very young. And, like the gods in the book, I could certainly believe it is a bizarrely sacred place.
I fell in love with this book, with the mystery and mythology of it. Not just the mythology of those old worlds and beliefs, but of American mythology as well, of culture heroes and secret dreams and a land that is good for men but troubling for gods. I would highly recommend it, and am very grateful that it was recommended to me. (Thank you, Twitterverse!)