Author: Neil Gaiman
Synopsis: After saving a young woman bleeding in the street, Richard Mayhew is pulled into a world existing side by side with our own, where everything he knows is wrong and is about to be thrown into greater chaos if he and his new acquaintances can’t figure out who’s after them and what their endgame is.
The Low Down:
My first introduction to Neil Gaiman was Good Omens. I picked it up while in Cambodia and had ample time to read it, as almost every method of transportation we had either broke down at least once, or was so slow that my car sickness didn’t effect me. It was fabulous and so hilarious that I’d burst out laughing randomly and stopped my boyfriend, at the time, and read him pieces of the story. He doesn’t read much fiction and was surprisingly indulgent with these outbursts. He liked what I read him so much that he even read the book after I was done. We left Good Omens with a friend and the name Neil Gaiman slipped into my memory. I rediscovered him while reading an anthology called Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. I loved his story: How the Marquis got his Coat Back so much. I thought of it constantly and anytime I spoke to someone about the anthology, I always remembered this story more than others. It was only when I was having tea with the same friend who’d suggested the anthology that she mentioned that the main character of the story, the Marquis de Cabaras, was also in a full length novel. I was so excited! I instantly ordered Neverwhere. I tried not to get too excited, I’m somewhat hit and miss with Neil Gaiman but Neverwhere was everything I wanted it to be. It was, in short (I know, too late for that), amazing.
The story follows Richard Mayhew an average fellow who is quite content with the way his life is all going. That changes when he stands up his fiance’s boss in favor of saving a woman bleeding in the street. This decision catapults him into the world of the London Below where magic is run of the mill, rats are lords, and the Underground stations literally describe areas of city. Richard weaves his way precariously through this new world, surviving due to a mixture of luck and genuine good karma. He hopes to be able to find his way back into existence in London Above and assist Door, the young lady that he selflessly saved at the beginning of the novel. Gaiman not only imbues his characters with unique attributes but successfully spins a mystery that darkly reveals itself as the final chapters unfold. The otherworldly quality and imagery that radiates from the book is, with out a doubt, intense.
My only complaint might be a talent that a main character has and is conveniently revealed in the final chapters of the book. This ties up the plot nicely but I would have preferred if it had been slipped in earlier in the book. Maybe it was and I just happened to have missed it. The story was, at points, confusing. But I believe that’s how it’s meant to be. We’re viewing most of this from Richard’s perspective and he’s confused for most of the book. The London Below was perfectly filthy, grimy, and somewhat alluring. I’d finish a chapter with the urge to wash my hands and then go look down dark alleyways in hopes of seeing de Carabas leaning against a wall waiting for me to hurry up.
- Pull up a map of the London Underground. It adds just a bit more to comprehension of the story and gives you an “Oh yeah!!” enjoyment, every time they mention a new stop.
I need more!
American Gods, Stardust, Anansi Boys, Good Omens, are just a few of Neil Gaiman’s books. There was also a TV show made of Neverwhere in 1996 for the BBC. Side Note: Neverwhere was a TV show first and Neil Gaiman made it a novel because he wanted to include all the bits that weren’t able to make it in the actual show. Of course, if you love de Carabas as much as I do you can check out Rogues which features him.
Add to my library:
US Amazon: Neverwhere: Author’s Preferred Text