Published by Avon on 9/16/96
Genres: Horror, Urban Fantasy
Source: The Smashtastic Library
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Richard Mayhew is a plain man with a good heart - and an ordinary life that is changed forever on a day he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. From that moment forward he is propelled into a world he never dreamed existed - a dark subculture flourishing in abandoned subway stations and sewer tunnels below the city - a world far stranger and more dangerous than the only one he has ever known...
MY FAVORITE BOOK! EVER!
Today, I want to share with you my favorite book of all time. It is a dark, gothic urban fantasy that takes place in London Underground. While the characters are eccentric and unique, you will find no vampires, weres or faeries in this novel. Instead, Gaiman’s fantastical world is a reflection of reality – an alternate reality.
Richard is a young businessman leading a normal existence. On his way to dinner with his fiancé one evening, he stops to rescue a young women who is lying on the sidewalk, bleeding. He takes the girl named Door back to his apartment. The next day, she has fully recovered and asks him to find someone named the Marquis de Carabas. She needs this person to aid her in escaping some of the most evil, vile characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction – Croup and Vandemar. Once Richard returns to his apartment with the Marquis, the Marquis and Door both vanish immediately.
Richard soon learns that his interactions with these strange people have literally turned him invisible to the world. He loses his job, his apartment, no one recognizes him anymore. He has now become a part of London Below. People who “slip through the cracks” takes on an entirely new meaning in this novel.
Richard sets out to find Door in London Below so he can get his life back. Along the way, he meets Rat Speakers, crosses a dark and mysterious underground bridge that has the tendency to gobble people up as they cross, and finds a Floating Market under Harrods, of all places. He discovers that Lady Door is someone of nobility in this underworld, and she is on a mission to discover the people behind her family’s demise. At this point, Richard has no other option but to join her in the quest to bring down the malevolence that is out to destroy this world.
The series of events in this book are intense, grim and treacherous. Richard is quite unremarkable and about as normal as one can be, but he grows on you. His desire to get back to his normal existence in London Above is his main motivation to continue on this insane ride, but the more involved he becomes with London Below, the more his chances to leave it diminish. Door is a fantastic character who is way more than she seems.
The descriptions of these areas and people are very visual and detailed. Gaiman’s writing is engaging, simplistic and full of wonderful expression. He has a sense of humor when breathing life into his characters. For example, Croup and Vandemar are like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but cruel and inhumane. They are vile and enjoy bringing pain and death, yet they speak as though they have been raised by the Queen herself. They are extremely eloquent, which is in contrast to their despicable personalities. It’s odd and funny. Also, the entire cast of eccentric and odd-ball characters are accepted for who they are in London Below. They can be themselves without being shunned by society. It kinda makes you wonder which reality is better…
When I recently visited London for the first time, it was so great to see all the landmarks talked about in this book. The names of tube stations were especially fun for me because of their use in the book. The Earl of Earl’s Court is quite a character in the book, and runs his court on an abandoned Tube train that has its own schedule and route. I wanted to take a picture in front of the Earl’s Court Tube sign, but it never happened. That scene is one of my favorites. The Black Friar monks are housed in Blackfriars and Islington is an Angel, an important character in the story.
Neverwhere was actually an urban fantasy TV mini-series in the mid 1990s that aired on BBC. I’ve watched some of the series through Netflix and it so hokey and ridiculous! But, Gaiman decided to put the TV series into book form, and it is gloriously awesome. It’s very much an Alice in Wonderland-esque story, which is probably why I was drawn to it. Alice is one of my favorite children’s stories! In short, Gaiman is a wonderful storyteller, and this tale is sure to keep your interest until the very end.
This book receives every star I own.
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