Books Like American Gods
Long before American Gods became a successful television series on the Starz cable network, it was a 2001 fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. With its unique blend of fantasy, mythology and Americana, it quickly drew in readers and the novel walked away with both a Hugo as well as Nebula award in 2002. The story involves an ex-convict named Shadow Moon who reluctantly finds himself in the employment of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Together the two travel across America as Mr. Wednesday attempts to recruit the "Old Gods" in a battle against the "New American Gods." Although Shadow Moon is initially very skeptical about this mission, he soon finds himself caught up right in the middle of it all. Whether you have been a fan of the book since its release or discovered it after watching the television show, here are a few more books like American Gods.
by Neil Gaiman
As with most good books, the most similar work will always be from the same author. Neil Gaiman has plenty of great novels to choose from, such as Stardust and InterWorld, but the closest story to American Gods is one that is set in the same universe, called Anansi Boys. It is not a sequel to American Gods, but it does feature a character called Mr. Nancy, who appears in both books. Anansi Boys is about a young man, Charles Nancy, who has to interrupt his wedding plans to attend the funeral of his father of the latter unexpectedly died from a heart attack. There, Charles is shocked to learn that his father was an incarnation of a spider god. Charles also finds out that his own lack of divine powers is because the brother he never knew he had got them instead. The two brothers eventually meet and, in typical American Gods fashion, this is where things become really weird.
by Terry Pratchett
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett is the thirteenth novel in his very popular Discworld series and explores very similar themes to American Gods, albeit in a much more tongue in the cheek fashion. In this novel, it is the Great God Om who tries to make a comeback, but instead of a powerful deity, he is shocked to return as a tortoise. In addition to his tortoise form being very humiliating, it lacks his divine powers as well, which makes a little difficult for Om. To make matters even worse, the only person who can hear his voice is a man named Brutha, but he is understandably very skeptical about the whole matter. The two end up on an adventure where Om finds more small gods struggling to make people believe in them so that they can become powerful again. Despite the similarities, Gaiman claims that he did not read Small Gods before writing American gods, but the fact that he was good friends with Terry Pratchett and had daily conversations with him definitely had an influence.
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Things come a full circle with this book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman as they both use their experience with writing about gods meddling in the affairs of men to write a story about the end of the world. Good Omens, which will follow in the footsteps of American Gods to become a television series, is about an angel and a demon who have both been living amongst the people of Earth. Over the years the two began to enjoy the mortal lifestyle, so they are understandably alarmed when they find out that the Rapture is rapidly approaching. The story also involves the Antichrist accidentally being swapped at birth and ending up with the wrong family, as well as the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Although the tone of Good Omens is not as serious as American Gods, both novels obviously share a similar writing style and penchant for odd characters.
by Diana Wynne Jones
Although Eight Days of Luke is a children's fantasy novel and lacks the gritty tone of American Gods the two stories do share some similarities. In fact, even Neil Gaiman has commented on Eight Days of Luke, which was released a year before American Gods. Both books involve seemingly ordinary humans encountering a Norse god. In the case of Eight Days of Luke, it is an orphaned boy named David, who encounters a "Mr. Wedding" on a Wednesday. This is similar to how Shadow Moon meets Mr. Wednesday on a Wednesday. Of course, in both cases the characters turn out to the Norse God. Wednesday also has a special meaning as its original meaning meant "day of Woden" in honor of Odin.
by James Morrow
Neil Gaiman definitely wasn't afraid to mix religion and controversy in American Gods, which is something that can also be found in Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow. However, in this book it is the protagonist, Julie Katz, who discovers that she has divine origins. It tuns out that her Mother is God, which makes her the half-sister to Jesus and capable of all kinds of messianic powers. However, she also has to contend with Satan, who enjoys playing mind games with her and fundamentalists, who are not impressed by her claims. Gaiman added plenty of strange twists and turns to American Gods, which is something Only Begotten Daughter also has in abundance.