I will admit that I don’t know much about Neil Gaiman or about his American Gods series, but I received this short story as part of the StoryBundle #14 – Truly Epic Fantasy Bundle a couple years ago. While I was between reads getting ready for vacation back in June, I was knocking off some of the shorter books on my #ShelfLove list and this one floated to the top of the list.
Thankfully Gaiman included a short introduction to the story and how it fits into the Amercian Gods canon. Without this, I would probably been completely lost. This story provides no background about Shadow.
I was not a fan of “Monarch of the Glen.”
- One plus…the book took place in Scotland and Gaiman was able to write the Scots accent (bluidy for bloody).
- One minus…I didn’t know enough about the American Gods universe to truly understand why Mr. Alice was so interested in Shadow and why his actions in the story were so devastating.
- One plus and one minus…the story is short and it was fascinating. At least until near the end when I got completely lost as characters revealed themselves. Maybe I missed some nuance of the story that would have told me who a couple of people were before the last couple of chapters.
- One more minus (kind of)…there are times I really struggle with my eReader and this short story was one of them. the formatting was weird for this book at least when it came to the layout for the dialogue. As a result, if Shadow deigned to have a longer conversation with someone, I often had to track back through the conversation after the first pass and work through who said what because there seemed to be hard returns missing. It looked like this:
“A character says something to Shadow here,” he said. “Shadow says something here.”
“The character responds to Shadow here.”
Since I have read exactly one Gaiman novel before this (Stardust (and I saw the movie first)), I wasn’t sure if this was a formatting issue with my ePub version of the book or Gaiman’s style as a writer. Whatever it was, it was bloody confusing and frustrating.
Fans of the American Gods series may like this continuation of Shadow’s story. And while Gaiman did an excellent job of painting the Scottish Highlands and the strange people you might find there, I believe having more knowledge of the American Gods mythos might be needed for a reader to truly enjoying this haunting short story.