The Cambridge Geek

Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys

I'll admit I've not actually read Anansi Boys. I started it a few years back, but it didn't grab me enough to stick with it. That's actually proved to be a benefit, as it means I've been allowed to come into this cold, and I think I've got more out of the twists and turns of the plot than I would have done otherwise.

Neil Gaiman's original novel came out back in 2006. It tells the tale of Charlie Nancy, who makes the unexpected discovery that he is the son of Anansi, the spider god of stories. But more than that, he also has a brother, Spider, who got all of the god power, making him the more cool, more charming, more sexy, just, well, more.

And in response to Charlie's foolish wish to get to know his brother, he appears. And begins to tear down his life, not intentionally, but just by being better at it than he is. Which leaves Charlie in the awkward position of trying to get him back out of it, by a rather emotional journey through the world of stories.

It is excellently done. The cast are rather brilliant, with Jacob Anderson (Grey Worm from GoT, yes I am a fan) doing a tortured man trying to make sense of his life, against Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who has far too much fun playing the great god figure. Lenny Henry's occasional interjections as the voice of Anansi help tie the story together, but Joseph Marcell has a wonderful timbre to his narration, giving the story a fable-like flow. Those are the high notes/major characters, but the cast in general give a stylish performance. Rhind-Tutt has perfected his posh and creepy persona.

The foley also contributes to these voices to produce a verdant soundscape, which might be one of the fullest I've heard in recent times. Overall it's packaged well, with each episode having a decent arc and holding together as a good half hour.

And it's tied into a decent storyline as well. As I said, I didn't manage the book, but I certainly enjoyed the plot in this form. It's a relatively traditional hero's journey at its core, but it has enough confusions, conflicts and crime to keep the interest through six episodes.

Plus, it's all out now, so you can go listen to the entire thing in one go. I did, and suggest you do too. (And if you missed it on the radio, it's all available here.)

Highly recommended.

Tagged: Radio Drama Cast Fiction Fantasy