Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Mass Market Paperback, 370 pages, Published January 1st 1998 by Avon, ISBN13: 9780380789016


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…

Review: An enjoyable read!

**Spoiler Alert!** If you plan on reading the book, do not continue reading this review. … Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Richard Mayhew is just your everyday Average Joe who moved to London to procure a number-crunching job. He meets a girl and becomes engaged. Life seems to be great. However, Richard is an absent-minded person. He forgets his keys, loses track of time, etc… On the way to dinner with his fiancee (with a reservation he forgot to confirm), where he was supposed to impress her boss, Richard stops by a rag girl who is exhausted, frightened and hurt. Jessica (who is most definitely a woman who prefers her way or the highway) demands he leave her for someone else to take care of. And when he picks up the girl to take her home, Jessica (her name isn’t Jess) threatens to end their engagement. Richard disregards her statement and takes the girl home to mend. Little did he know how bad life was about to get.

“Door” can open doorways without keys, can open doors where there are none. It was her ability that helped her escape her would-be assassins, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, and brought her to London Above. But Richard doesn’t understand her meaning. No worries, reluctantly, he soon will. Her would-be assasssins manage to track her down, but Richard manages to get rid of them. With her face now plastered on Missing posters throughout the neighborhood, Door sends Richard for help and he brings back the Marquis de Carabas. As she leaves, she apologizes. Little does Richard know how deep that apology actually goes. For Richard’s life, as he knows it, is now over. Jessica broke their engagement and refuses to see or talk to him. When he arrives at work, his possessions are removed from his desk. His flat is leased to another couple – while he’s in the tub! Richard is gone. It’s as if he never existed. He can be seen, but is immediately forgotten. Throwing some of his belongings into a duffle bag, he sets off to find Door, wanting answers, wanting his life back. There’s only one way he figures he can find her. Start with the very place she’d sent him before for help.

And help he gets – from unlikely characters. For under London lies London Below, filled with shady characters, talking animals, tunnels, sewers, hidden passageways and a mysterious market that’s never held in the same place twice. A market that provides, but people barter, and not with money. Money means nothing in London Below. For Richard, this isn’t reality. He wants to go home.

Door is on her own quest. She wants to find her family’s muderer. She wants to know why. And only the Angel Islington can help. But after finally finding him, she is sent on a quest to retrieve a certain key, and when she returns, he will tell her all she needs to know. Richard, reluctantly, is along for the ride, for afterwards, the promise is he’ll be sent home and his life will be as it was.

But Door was warned; they have a traitor in their mists. The Hunter is hired to bodyguard her from the assassins who are after her. Richard deals with more than he bargained for. And just when they think they have the story right, how wrong they were.

An enjoyable read, it was an adventure. Places where people have no business being. Strange and shady characters, some you enjoy, some you dispise. A solid mystery that leaves you asking questions until you finally get the answers you seek. For me, it was missing just that little “oomph”, that little “spark” to make the story completely believable. While I could picture a different world of London Below, I couldn’t really picture some of the characters and what they did. I enjoyed the banter with Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. And I felt, at heart, how Richard came to care for Door. Definitely an entertaining story to read.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Neverwhere was my first Neil Gaiman, and I’ve been addicted to his writing ever since. I really love this kind of book, where there is a whole ‘nother world running parallel to our regular world, and we never even see it. and sure, Neverwhere has flaws, but I’ve probably reread it half a dozen times, so it’s gotta be half way decent.

    • Oh, I’d say it’s more than halfway decent for sure! This is my first Neil Gaiman novel as well, and I love the parallel world he created. I’m definitely up to trying more of his novels. Any you’d recommend?

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