❝ He had gone beyond the world of metaphor & simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him. ❞ – Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman
I posted something on Instagram a long time ago asking everyone to vote on which book I should read next. Neverwhere was one of the options, and everyone who voted for this book wrote me a private note talking about how great this particular novel really is.
Never will I doubt #bookstagram readers ever again. This book was everything and more!
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 16th 1996
Page Count: Paperback, 370 pages
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Urban Fiction
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.
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I fell in love with Neil Gaiman’s writing when I picked up Coraline. As someone who spooks easily this was one of those novels that I thought I should avoid but became enraptured with the characters and world Gaiman created. Fast forward quite a bit, and I decided that Neverwhere would be my next Neil Gaiman novel.
On a recent trip to Seattle, I decided to take quite a few books and Neverwhere was one of them. This was a “vacation” read for me. So I decided to start the book on a ferry ride over to Victoria, BC. I almost had it finished by the time we ended the day trip 14 hours later.
Originally scripted as a television series, Neil wrote a introduction to the book that describes how Neverwhere the novel came to be. Essentially every time that the producers or director cut something from the script for the TV series, Neil would add it back in his book. Now that I have read the book, I’m intrigued to watch the TV series (starring Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, Sophie Okonedo and David Harewood)… time to binge watch on the BBC!
If you have never heard of Neverwhere – and don’t feel bad about that, I had not until a year or so ago – this book throws you into the world of an alternate London. As someone who thinks that London is one of the most magical cities, I found it really intriguing to travel within this other version of the historical city.
Breaking down this book into bite size pieces – it’s a very goth Alice in Wonderland mixed with a tiny hint of It’s a Wonderful Life, and some very sadistic villains (quite possibly my favorite ever).
Ultimately, we are introduced to Richard who lives a very boring life. It’s simple and straightforward, but he feels like he has everything he might need – a stable job, a beautiful woman on his arm…. What could possibly go wrong?
Cut to his girlfriend dragging him to a dinner for work that he absolutely does not want to attend, and he stumbles across something that completely topples his entire world.
I loved this book so much. There are so many truly incredible characters and interesting elements to the other London. It’s incredibly dark, complex and graphic. There is adventure and friendship.
I particularly loved the journey that our main character Richard goes through. As someone currently trying to figure out her place in the world, I appreciated the struggle to discover that “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side”. Richard must figure out who he wants to be and what he wants from life.
Of course, you throw in a couple of very unique villains and some epic roadblocks and you have yourself one of my new favorite novels. I hope to return to this world again and again.
If you have never read a Neil Gaiman book, and you’re looking for a good one to start with – Neverwhere is truly an excellent choice. Although, as I pick up more Neil Gaiman books I believe I will discover that there are no bad Neil Gaiman books. In fact, I have heard they adapted Good Omens into a TV show and I will probably read that one next.
About the Author
Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. A self-described “feral child who was raised in libraries,” Gaiman credits librarians with fostering a life-long love of reading: “I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there. I discovered that librarians actually want to help you: they taught me about interlibrary loans.”
Gaiman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere (1995), Stardust (1999), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American Gods (2001), Anansi Boys (2005), and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett, 1990), as well as the short story collections Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).
Find him at http://www.neilgaiman.com/.