March’s Author Crush: Neil Gaiman’s Twisted Storytelling is One of a Kind

norse mythologyUsually, my author crushes tend to be romance writers. I can’t help it: I just love reading about love. But I recently got my hands on Norse Mythology (W.W. Norton, February 7, 2017), the latest novel by Neil Gaiman, and I’m already hooked. Full of Gaiman’s trademark wit and twisted storytelling, it’s reminding me again of why I’ve always been such a huge fan. So this month, instead of diving back into my regular romance rotation, Neil Gaiman is my official author crush for March.

neil gaiman
Gaiman

At this point, Gaiman is practically an institution. And for good reason. From writing Dr. Who episodes to crafting bestselling children’s books and graphic novels, he might be one of the most versatile writers around. But he does have a distinctive style, blending the bizarre and the magical with an emotional core that keeps you riveted no matter what type of storytelling medium he’s using. His most recent work, Norse Mythology, is a great example of how creatively Gaiman thinks: he takes Norse myths and gods and turns them into a narrative that is both epic and relatable, filled with interesting details and stories that make this a compulsive read. Honestly, at this point I would read (or watch!) anything that Gaiman has a hand in. He’s just that good.

While there’s plenty of awesome work to choose from, here are my four favorite Gaiman creations that I find myself turning to again and again:

American Gods (William Morrow, June 19, 2001)

american gods neil gaimanPerhaps Neil Gaiman’s most famous novel, American Gods imagines a world in which gods and mythical creatures live among us. Protagonist Shadow Moon is released from prison after his wife dies in a tragic accident. He encounters the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who takes him on a road trip across the country, running into strange friends and even stranger foes. It turns out Wednesday is an incarnation of an old god – Odin – and he’s rounding up his deity friends in order to fight an epic battle against the new gods that have been popping up – the gods of credit cards, the Internet, plastic, television, and any other modern technology we’ve come to “believe” in. It’s an epic novel told in a relatable way (Gaiman’s specialty!), and it’s almost impossible to put down. Also, great news: American Gods been turned into a TV show for Starz, with the first episode airing April 30.

Stardust (William Morrow; Reprint Edition, October 30, 2012)

stardust neil gaimanThis was the first Neil Gaiman novel I read, and is definitely still one of my favorites. Turned into a pretty awesome movie starring Claire Danes and Charlie Cox, the book dives even deeper into the fairy tale aspects of the story. Tristran Thorn is a young man determined to win the love of a fair maiden. His quest takes him over the Wall that separates his quaint English town from the land of faerie. There, he finds a fallen star who also happens to be a beautiful young woman. As Tristran and his star travel throughout this magical world, they face witches, evil lords, talking animals and so much more. If you love adult fairy tales (or just fairy tales in general!), then this book is made for you.

The Graveyard Book (HarperCollins, September 30, 2008)

the graveyard book neil gaimanNeil Gaiman won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book, a children’s story about Nobody “Bod” Owens, a toddler who sneaks away to a graveyard after his family is brutally murdered by a man named Jack. Bod is taken in by the residents of the graveyard – ghosts, werewolves, witches – who raise him as their own. He also has a mysterious but beloved caretaker, Silas, who makes sure he stays fed and learns some necessary life skills. Inspired by The Jungle Book, Bod grows to love the creepy graveyard community, even as he begins to branch out into the ‘human’ world. But as Bod grows, he learns more about where he came from and just who that mysterious Jack might be. A creepy but heartfelt look at childhood, it’s very easy to see why The Graveyard Book is beloved by readers all over the world.

The Sandman Vol. 1, (Vertigo, December 1, 1998)

the sandman neil gaimanI don’t often read graphic novels, but there are a few that have blown me away, and The Sandman is definitely one of them. Originally spanning 75 issues, the graphic series follows Dream, or the Sandman, or Morpheus, or the Shaper (he has a lot of different names). It’s almost impossible to give a succinct summary of the plot, as it twists and turns, becoming both a horror series and then an epic fantasy. But the basic premise is that Morpheus is captured and held for 70 years, before escaping and then trying to rebuild his fallen kingdom. Moving mostly between two realms – Dreaming and the waking world – Morpheus interacts with Gods, demons, superheroes and many more. At its heart, this is a character-driven story, painting a picture of a true tragic hero. If you’ve never read a graphic novel, The Sandman is a great place to start; Neil Gaiman creates a magical world that’s impossible not to love.

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Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.