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Review of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman posted 19 Jan 2005, 09:01 by Born of Fantasy, Commoner

By[b:1qusx1i9] Ainulindale [/b:1qusx1i9](me) There is an often overused word one will find if one reads enough book reviews, a word I as well am often guilty of using. A word, that loses its very definition because so commonly misused in describing novels. In this case, the word is brandished on so many other works, that to categorize this novel under the same word that aptly describes it, is actually insulting to this novel. The word is “brilliant”, the author is Neil Gaiman, the novel is Neverwhere, and it is truly brilliant. Any reader familiar with Gaiman’s novels including Neverwhere, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) and his monumental run in the comic book industry with the title Sandman under DC’s Vertigo imprint, in my opinion one of the greatest series in the industry’s history, should not be surprised. These efforts in my opinion make Gaiman a necessary inclusion to any responsible debate pertaining to who is currently the best writer in speculative fiction. In the pages of Neverwhere, Gaiman first takes us to contemporary London, where he introduces us to Richard Mayhew, a man like so many others, a man that all of us know, or perhaps are. He lives in an apartment, works at a stable job, is engaged to a girl he feels he loves, shares a round of drinks with his friends after the job, and in all these experiences he has both positive and negative trials and experiences, that culminate what can be described simply as everyday normal life, or the daily grind depending on the day. On one such normal day, after work he and his fiancée, Jessica, are rushing to an important dinner meeting with Jessica’s employer, and on the sidewalk they find a collapsed, injured girl. Jessica, in a rush and already late, insists for Richard to ignore the injured girl and says, “Someone else will help her”. Seeing Richard’s reaction she compromises and proposes they call an ambulance, when the injured girl wakes up and pleads “no hospital please, they will find me”. Richard, decides to take her up to her apartment, and meet Jessica at the restaurant afterward, much against the behest of Jessica, who, infuriated calls off their engagement that moment. Richard’s decision to help the girl made at the moment, changes Richard’s very reality, or more aptly his perception of reality. The girl, he learns, is named Door, and she is an inhabitant of a plane of reality that exists parallel with the real world called London Below, a magical world, filled with denizens of all sorts. A world unperceived by the population of proper London, or London Above. Unaware of this at the time, he aids Door by leading a friend of hers, Marquis de Carabas to her and watches her leave his life. Richard begins to learn that his chance meeting with Door has somehow affected his world. Nobody remembers him some do no even see him, including Jessica and his fellow employees. This prompts Richard to search out Door for answers. With assistance from some citizens of London Below, he is lead to the wonderous “floating market”. The Floating Market is a place where the many factions of the population of London Below flock to trade wares and services, a market that is never in the same place twice, and whose consumers and vendors alike abide to a truce when in attendance. It is here where Richard again finds Door, along with Marquis de Carabas, auditioning a bodyguard Door will need to aid her in a task. Her task is one of personal vengeance, she seeks an Angel, Islington, a friend of her father who was murdered, along with the rest of her family by a duo that caused the injuries to her that left her bloodied on the sidewalk where Richard found her. The duo, 2 professional killers, and 2 of the truly great, fun, villainous, creations to grace the pages of speculative fiction. They are Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, 2 sadistic, efficient, killers for hire, and known to be the best at what they do. Mr. Croup, aptly describes the duo himself in this memorable quote when talking to their current employer, “Sir. Might I, with due respect remind you that Mr. Vandemar and myself burned down the city of Troy? We brought the Black Plague to Flanders. We have assassinated a dozen kings, five popes, half a hundred heroes and two accredited gods.” This duo is one of the most memorable in fantasy in my opinion, and their appearances are worth the cover price alone. Door, feeling guilty of Richard’s plight caused by his aiding her allows him to join her, Carabas, and the newly recruited body guard, a woman named Hunter, whose past exploits we find have made her a near legend in regards to her prowess and skill in battle, in search for Islington. The quest is the meat of the novel. Along the way the companions are shadowed by the deadly Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar under orders from their mysterious employer. They experience a trial by monks, give battle to a legendary beast that inhabits the sewers, all while traversing a magical, dark landscape Gaiman creates for us, full of both magnificent and deadly residents that “fell through the cracks” of London Above. In this undertaking one of the members of the party will die, one will betray them, one will find themselves, and one will redeem her family, as Gaiman literally takes us to the gateway of Hell itself (well close enough :). Neverwhere is in my opinion an instant classic, TRULY brilliant. Gaiman weaves a masterful story with fairy tale roots. London Below literally comes alive, often funny, often dark, often mesmerizing, never to be put down. The conclusion is eventful and satisfying, offering a great climax, and not only successfully concludes the group’s quest but also in elation to the individual character’s present, personal, journeys. I sincerely hope Gaiman graces us with a sequel, as the opportunity is left to do so. The characters are just that memorable. On the back cover of the novel is a quote by Peter Straub, “Gaiman is a Master…Nobody in his field is better than this.” I find it very difficult to refute the statement, my final grade for Neverwhere is a very strong 9. Review brought to you by [b:1qusx1i9]Ainulindale[/b:1qusx1i9] via: [img:1qusx1i9][/img:1qusx1i9] view post

posted 08 Mar 2006, 03:03 by Nuuance E'vaance, Commoner

Short note: I also found this book very near the top of my literary heap, and it is my favorite Gaiman piece to date. It's a story, immersive, and easily takes you away. I consider it a London Underground Peter Pan. This story has, simply put, "charm." view post

posted 20 Feb 2007, 06:02 by Anonymous, Subdidact

an "alice in wonderland" might be closer to the truth, But I agree it is one of his best works to date (Though Good Omens was great in it's own right as well) view post

posted 23 Feb 2007, 18:02 by Alpha Crow, Candidate

I liked it a lot. Novel ideas and concepts and all painted in a monomythical style. Very fun to read and memorable. view post

Re: Review of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman posted 17 Aug 2008, 14:08 by Cnaiür, Peralogue

Garbage. Not even worthy of a paper weight. Not even worthy of being sold to a used bookstore. It sits at the bottom of a box of old books I have so I never have to see it again. If I ever need paper to get a fireplace fire going I know where to look. The second book I read by Gaiman, and I'm most adamantly certain its the last one too. view post


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