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Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Last week I was telling Boyfriend about Neverwhere because he’s never read it before. When telling him about it I realized that I was a little fuzzy on the details, probably because it’s been so long since I read it. I’m really glad I decided to re-read this one, because it was even better than I remembered.

The world beneath London is just as you’d expect an underground city to be: dark, dirty, and crawling with unsavory beings, both human and non-human. But, London Below is more than just that, it’s a city full of life, trade, and the unique sorts of people that don’t quite fit in up in “normal” London. I absolutely love the world that Gaiman has created. In some ways, it’s my ideal type of fantasy setting, not because it’s an entirely new world or one laden with magic, but because it’s more like an alternate version of our world. One of the reasons I’m such a big fan of Neil’s is because of the way he takes the modern world and stretches it just enough that it becomes fantastical, but is never too over the top. Realistic people, situations, and feelings remain present in his stories, making them easy to read and relate to.

There are some fantastic characters in this story. Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, is just an average guy who was just at the wrong place, wrong time. His life is turned upside down as he gets dragged to the streets below London, while his entire life above suddenly gets erased. Among his companions are the Lady Door (a girl trying to understand her parents’ death and avenge her family), the marquis de Carabas (who is as over the top as his name suggests), Anasthaesia (a rat-speaking girl), and Hunter (the best bodyguard in the underground). They cross paths with the likes of angels, friars, and earls, all while trying to steer clear of the two hit-men who have their eyes on Door.

This was actually one of the first fantasy books I had ever given a chance. (Can you believe that there was a time when I didn’t read fantasy!?) After re-reading this I realize why I got sucked in and captured by the genre.

Supposedly, Neil has a sequel to Neverwhere in the works. I don’t know much about it, but I sure hope we don’t have to wait too long for it to come out.

 

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