I’m not sure I understand this book very well. Perhaps I wasn’t looking deeply enough, but it seemed to be more ambient than purposeful, by which I mean, everything was described very beautifully but nothing seemed to matter that much. It also didn’t help that the story was punctuated with so many asides, quotations, and short stories that it felt more like a collection than a single story.
I had hoped that upon reaching the conclusion I would find that it all connected together in a delightful manner, but sadly it never did. A side gag, a running joke, and an unclever con were all more significant to the story than the main character himself. Shadow seemed to lack purpose or will, conned by a conman into “drinking his mead” and then acting like it was more binding than self-preservation. It didn’t ring true to me.
That said, whenever I was able to shut off the part of my brain that wanted to connect the dots and find meaning in the story, I had a good time. It’s emotional, visceral, a bit intentionally nasty at times, but full of wonderfully written prose. Then the rest of my brain would kick in, wanting there to be more.
Ultimately, it was unsatisfying.