Like most fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods , I've been patiently waiting for the new TV adaptation. Just kidding, I've been impatiently lurking around the internet to see if there are any new casting announcements and foaming at the mouth in excitement. Because I don't want to jinx anything, but this American Gods TV show might actually be good. The cast looks stellar, Neil Gaiman seems to approve, and the writers have promised to include that scene where a prostitute swallows a man whole. So here are some books to read if you just can't wait for the new American Gods show.
If you, like me, have been lying to your boyfriend about how often you Google Ricky Whittle, you probably need some new fantasy reads to distract yourself. American Gods may be one of the best modern mythology epics out there, but it's certainly not alone. I'm assuming that most fans of Shadow Moon and the gang have already made it through Anansi Boys, The Monarch of the Glen, and most of Neil Gaiman's other novels (and if not, consider this your formal invitation). But, believe or not, there are some great fantasy writers out there who aren't Neil Gaiman. Here are a few books to stave off the American Gods mania:
1. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
OK, I know I said authors other than Neil Gaiman. But if you're a Neil Gaiman fan who hasn't picked up Sandman yet, you don't know what you're missing. The Sandman is a strange, dark, utterly brilliant comic book series unlike anything else you'll ever read. It weaves together ancient myths and modern day comic book lore to create a mesmerizing meditation on the nature of storytelling (and one hell of a dysfunctional family).
2. Summerland by Michael Chabon
Sasquatches. Wendigos. The haunted 161-year-old husk of George Armstrong Custer. Summerland is a fantasy set in the American Faery—two human kids are off on a quest to save the Clam Island fairies from imminent peril. It's not quite as dark as American Gods (and much more kid-friendly), but Summerland is a perfect read for anyone with an interest in American mythology, werefoxes, and baseball.
3. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
American Gods is a fantasy adventure, sure, but it's also creepy as hell. If you're not too invested in ever sleeping again, you might want to check out Emily Carroll's Through the Woods. Carroll brings fairy tales and original stories to life with her gorgeous (and terrifying) artwork. Her stories may seem simple, but they are guaranteed to haunt you for years to come.
4. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
Yes, Saga is a space opera, not an American mythology epic. But if you're interested in pulse-pounding action, strange fantastical worlds, and wildly inventive characters, Saga is the book for you. It's the story of one family on the run from virtually every force in the universe, with wisecracking dialogue from Brian K. Vaughan and simply beautiful art from Fiona Staples.
5. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin
Fans of dark and complex fantasy, meet N. K. Jemisin. The world of The Killing Moon is unique—you won't find any dragons or elves. You will find a strange society in which priests sneak into your dreams at night to harvest your soul for their all-powerful goddess. Jemisin creates her own fantasy world and her own epic mythology, with fully realized characters and a page-turning plot to boot.
6. Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
If you prefer your Americana-horror-fantasy a bit more on the goofy side, check out Gil's All Fright Diner. Advertised as "Bloodier than Fried Green Tomatoes!" and "Funnier than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre!" Gil's All Fright Diner is the story of a vampire and a werewolf out to save a roadside diner from the forces of unspeakable evil. It's fun, campy, gross, and fantastically funny.
7. Kraken by China Miéville
Speaking of funny and absolutely terrifying, there's China Miéville's Kraken. Cephalopod specialist Billy Harrow is giving an ordinary tour of London’s Natural History Museum when something rather odd occurs: the giant squid vanishes into thin air. This is only the tip of the strange and possibly apocalyptic iceberg, full of wizards, squid-worshipers, and one criminally minded tattoo.
8. The Truth by Terry Pratchett
You can't go wrong with a Discworld book. Terry Pratchett's The Truth is one of his best: there's been a murder in the city of Ankh-Morpork, and William de Worde must get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, few of Ankh-Morpork's citizens seem particularly interested in the truth, and William finds himself sucked into a nefarious plot to overthrow the city entirely.
9. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Did you know that the Faerie Queens of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts are based in Minneapolis? Well they are (in War for the Oaks, at least), and musician Eddi McCandry has been chosen as a pawn in their endless war. She's not particularly interested in fighting a faerie war, but she doesn't have much of a choice. So begins an Urban Fantasy classic filled with magic, giant dog-monsters, and plenty of rock 'n roll.
10. Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint
Newford is no ordinary town. Gremlins live in abandoned cars and mermaids swim in the harbor. Charles de Lint is one of the greats of Urban Fantasy, and Dreams Underfoot is the ethereal short story collection that kicks off his Newford series. Ancient myth and magic are hidden in the music clubs and alleyways of Newford, and the line between dream and reality is very, very thin.