The Best of Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman has written a number of great books and fans of his work will tell you that any one of his books is likely to be a great read and that once you have read one you will become hooked. Once hooked you may find yourself rushing off to the book store to get more of Gaiman’s books. While opinions differ as to which are the ones they enjoyed the most, the following list covers the ones most agree are his best.

American Gods (2001)
American GodsConsidered to be Gaiman’s most well-known novel, American Gods follows the life of an ex-convict Shadow, who is released from prison in time to make arrangements for the funeral of his wife who was killed, along with his friend, in a car accident. After some odd occurrences Shadow finds himself on a plane sitting next to a man who introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday, though clearly that is not his real name. Wednesday appears to know a lot about Shadow despite meeting him for the first time that day, and offers him a job.

Despite refusing Mr. Wednesday’s job offer several times the man is persistent and eventually wears Shadow down until he accepts without knowing what the job entails. When questioned Mr. Wednesday tells Shadow that he is to essentially do anything Mr. Wednesday asks of him, including providing protection and should the need arise, hurt people. Within days of beginning to work for Wednesday, Shadow realizes that the man is a con-artist. The story continues to follow the adventures of Shadow and Mr. Wednesday, as they embark on a number of interesting adventures.

Coraline (2002)
CoralineWritten for younger readers, Coraline is a winner of a Hugo Award, a Nebula Award, and a Bram Stoker Award. Coraline is the story of a young girl who moves with her parents into an apartment within an old building. Her parents both work and have little time for Coraline who finds herself sad and bored. She discovers a bricked-up door and intrigued by what could be behind it she opens it. Stepping through the door takes Coraline into a different world, and yet one with many similarities to the one she has been living in. In this new world Coraline has a new mother and father and in a surprising twist she discovers that in this world cats can talk.

It doesn’t take long for Coraline to realize that something is ‘off’ about this new world and so she decides to make her way back home. Unfortunately, while she has been away in her new world, things have changed in the old one and Coraline has to return to the new world in order to make things right in her old world. As the story unfolds readers will find themselves immersed in Coraline’s battle to return her real world to its ‘normal’ status. This book was turned into a movie, so once you have read the book check out the movie too!

Neverwhere (1996)
NeverwhereFirst created as a television 6-part mini-series of the same name by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, Gaiman wrote the novel at the same time. The set for the story is London, but London consists of both “London Below”, the tube stations underneath “London Above”, what we recognize as the real London. The main character in Neverwhere is a young Scotsman named Richard Mayhew, who, when wandering the streets of London encounters an injured girl named Door. His chance meeting with Door leads him into the other world of “London Below”. But was his meeting with Door really by chance or was it fate?

“London Below” is an entire community, a culture if you will, that exists to the complete oblivion of those above ground. Richard finds out that Door is being hunted by the murderers of her parents, and along with the Marquis de Carabas and his bodyguard, set out to find out why Door’s parents were murdered while trying to stay at least one step ahead of the people who murdered them and are determined to silence Door. The book is full of danger, mystery and intrigue, with a generous dose of humor thrown in.

Stardust (1999)
StardustThe story’s main character Tristan has a big crush on a pretty local girl, and although throughout his life his has always been a bit of a misfit, he feels that he can win her heart. Though not overly interested in Tristan’s intentions the girl agrees to give him “his heart’s desire” if he brings her a falling star. Tristan’s adventure takes him outside of his tiny hometown of Wall to another world called Faerie, in search of the falling star. The star in question turns out to be not a thing but a woman, and Tristan is not the only one searching for her. Three ancient witch sisters also seek the ‘star’ but with evil intention, as their goal is to cut out her heart. In addition there are three sons of the Lord of the Stormhold who have a strong reason to find the ‘star’ woman.

Tristan meets a small hairy man and helps him out so the man agrees to help Tristan find the ‘star’ lady. The man provides Tristan with a magical candle that will transport him miles at a time, as long as it remains lit. This enables Tristan to find the ‘star’ woman but when he does she has a broken leg. If unicorns, lions, witches and talking trees are up your alley you will love this great fantasy story. There’s also a happily-ever-after ending thrown in for good measure.