Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I know my last few posts have all been review related but I’ve been going through quite a few books lately and I really enjoy writing them so there!

Oh and Happy Holidays/Christmas or whatever else! Personally I’m still holding out for Humbug day!

gaiman

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

I’ve been a huge Terry Pratchet fan for years, (I know this a Gaiman book but bear with me) and I always admired his quirky style and rich universes. Some years ago I read Good Omens, which is collaboration between Pratchet and Gaiman, but having never read Gaiman on his own before, I’d never realized how similar the two authors’ styles were. I was always under the impression that Gaiman was much more serious in tone, but after reading NeverWhere I’ve come to appreciate his unique voice too.

If I’m being brutally honest, this book had me thinking it was the bastard child of Gaiman, Pratchet, Philip Pullman and Douglas Adams rolled into one. The reason I say this, is because these four authors have a very British way of weaving tales and new universes that very few are so skilled at. What I’m trying to say is that he’s in a class of superior authors, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

NeverWhere starts with a man named Richard Mayhew who stumbles across an injured girl on the street one night while on his way to a very important dinner with his perfectionist/sociopath girlfriend. When he tries help the girl, she refuses to be taken to hospital and so Richard has no alternative but to take her to his house in order to protect her from the two goons that are chasing her. The girl whose name is Door regains her strength by the following morning and makes her way back to London Below, which as Richard discovers is almost like a parallel semi-subterranean, quasi-timeless London where all sorts of lost people, magical creatures and beasts reside. Once he’s helped her send a message requesting the assistance of the Marquis de Carabas (an exceptional individual who would do anything for a piece of new information), she thanks him for his troubles and disappears out of his life, presumably forever until the moment Richard realises that something has shifted and nothing is as it was.

He wakes up to find that his job is gone, none of this friend or fiancé recognise him and people in the street simply fail to see him. Alarmed he decides that his only option is to enter London Below and go in search for Door in the hope that she will restore his reality. When he does find her, he is told that things are not as simple as that, so he is forced to join her in her quest to find her family’s murderer (part of the reason she was being chased the night before) and maybe in the process fix his life.

Needless to say the journey that follows is filled with expertly crafted characters that are interesting, entertaining, funny, inspiring and original. The story is dotted with twists and turns and each and every one of them ties off beautifully by the end. Even the one flaw that I’d spotted was expertly explained by the end, leaving me nothing to gripe about as I normally do.

With the construction of London Below, NeverWhere paints a brand new version of London that makes you wish he’d taken more time to talk about all the streets and boroughs he left out so we could spend more time in this enchanting, if only a little dirty, place.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  1. I read NeverWhere a few years ago, adn I did enjoy it, although don’t think it’s one of Gaiman’s best works. It kind of felt disjointed to me in comparison to others of his novels, and I wasn’t completely satified with the resolution. But he does have incredible setting (Londow Below is just so imaginative and surreal) and characters (I was in loe with Carabas).

    And how is it that you thought he’s so serious? I was so lucky as to attend a conference with him at a bookfair near my city and I can assure you, he’s a crazy Englishman with a sharp sense of humour 🙂

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