Review: Neverwhere

Title: Neverwhere

By: Neil Gaiman

Genre: Fantasy

“You’ll just have to make the best of it down here,” he said to Richard, “in the sewers and the magic and the dark.”
— Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s ultimate edition of his wildly successful first novel featuring his “preferred text”—and including his special Neverwhere tale “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”

Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s darkly hypnotic first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of a major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now Gaiman’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these works and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books.

Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed.

Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in the Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. The Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Door, a noblewoman whose family has been murdered, is on a quest to find the agent that slaughtered her family and thwart the destruction of this underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life, he must join the journey to save Door’s world—and find a way to survive.

A hallucinatory fantasia of mystery, mythology, and terror that “draws equally from George Lucas, Monty Python, Doctor Who, and John Milton” (USA Today), Neverwhere is an “Alice in Wonderland with a punk edge” (Poppy Z. Brite), “that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares” (San Diego Union-Tribune).

– Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere, William Morrow; (March 17, 2009), back cover.

Someone recommended that I read Neil Gaiman’s works and I figured it was about time that I do it. Although I was recommended to read American Gods, I somehow ended up getting to Neverwhere first. It is a solid introduction to his works and I was not disappointed.

The story starts with the narrative following the life of Richard Mayhew, but throughout the book the narrative changes to different characters.

I enjoyed the world building, plot, and most of the characters. The world is fully conceived with culture and characters that fit the world of London Below.

As for what I didn’t like…

Look, there will always be characters that you can’t relate to which someone else may absolutely love. The character that’s least compelling for me is the protagonist. At times it did feel like other characters moved the story forward and not Richard Mayhew. Even at the climax of the story, Richard isn’t the one to resolve the issue.

giphycruise

There have been times when I’ve had to give up on a read altogether because I couldn’t empathize or connect with the protagonist, but the character of Richard Mayhew wasn’t poor enough to make me stop reading the book. He isn’t poorly written―I just didn’t find him very compelling. I guess I’ll qualify it as more of a slight imperfection to the story than a dislike.

There were; however, other characters such as Door, Hunter, and Marquis De Carabas that I liked and they carried the story, making Neverwhere worth the read.

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What did you enjoy about Neverwhere? Do you have any Neil Gaiman book recommendations for me to read next? I’d love to hear it!

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