A Tangled Web
Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows reviews The Folio Society’s Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, illustrated by Francis Vallejo and out now…
Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Illustrations: Francis Vallejo
Introduction: Nalo Hopkinson
The Folio Society
For the past 70 years, The Folio Society has been producing beautiful limited edition versions of classic books and stories. Over the past few years, it has expanded its remit to include more modern content like Neil Gaiman’s ouevre. This is the second Gaiman book to get the Folio treatment (the first was American Gods, which I admit I haven’t seen or read).
Anansi Boys tells the tale of Charles Nancy who lives a seemingly ordinary life in London which is turned upside down when he attends his father’s funeral in Florida. It seems that he isn’t the only child he assumed he was but there is a deep family secret that gets uncovered when he meets his lost brother Spider. Obviously people have read this book before but I shall avoid blowing too much for those who haven’t.
Gaiman spent a long time sharpening his abilities as a writer in comics, most notably on The Sandman but he is now an experienced writer of prose. Anansi Boys is an accomplished fantasy tale which weaves detective story elements into its fabric while still remaining a fable at its core. Gaiman is a genuinely funny writer and here he invests the characters with warmth and humanity. Gaiman takes Charles Nancy on the journey from clumsy oaf to fully rounded protagonist with deft skill and the book also contains other characters like his brother Spider, his fiancee Rosie and policewoman Daisy which Gaiman invests with empathy and emotion.
Hopkinson’s introduction sets the scene for the book well, pointing out that Gaiman went to her to use her as a consultant to make sure that he got the Caribbean dialogue correct.
Folio Society editions fall into two categories. They are exquisitely produced classic novels with a smattering of images or they are lavishly illustrated editions where these illustrations really add a great deal to the reading experience. Anansi Boys falls into the latter with Francis Vallejo’s images, from the colourful wraparound cover to the intricate line drawings that greet the reader at the beginning of each chapter to the colour and black and white pieces which are scattered throughout, enhancing the reader’s journey through the book. Vallejo is a versatile artist, as comfortable with line art as he is with colour.
So even if people have read this book before, fans of Gaiman and Anansi Boys will get a great deal out of picking this up. Vallejo is an exceptional artist and Anansi Boys is a wonderful modern fable that feels timeless yet contemporary at the same time. Another magnificent Folio Society edition.
The Folio Society edition of Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, introduced by Nalo Hopkinson and illustrated by Francis Vallejo, is available exclusively from www.FolioSociety.com