Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Review: Neverwhere

Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: September 16th, 1996
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy

Richard Mayhew has been living in London for the past three years and considers himself fairly familiar with the city. He has a good job in securities and is engaged to a woman who knows exactly what she wants. When Richard helps a girl he finds bleeding on the sidewalk, everything changes and he finds himself introduced to a London he never knew existed. Richard is now one of the people who have fallen through the cracks and belong to London Below. To get his old life back, he joins forces with Door, the woman whose life he saved at the cost of his own. Door’s family was murdered and someone is after her and the special talent she possesses. Together, they embark on a quest to see the Angel Islington, who might be able to help them. As Richard discovers a new world that has literally been right under his nose, he will have to decide what it is he really wants.

I took this book out from the library on a whim, since I enjoyed Stardust, The Graveyard Book and Coraline. I liked American Gods, but I wasn’t able to finish it before I went on vacation. I love Gaiman’s way of building a fantasy world that exists amid our own. Whether it’s beyond a Wall, a locked door or hidden in a graveyard, Gaiman is able to create a magical world that exists within familiar places. In Neverwhere, London Below exists in the midst of the London Underground. I loved the world that Richard finds himself absorbed in. Not only did Gaiman do an excellent job of creating London Below, he also expertly worked it into the real London. I enjoyed Gaiman’s world building and his originality. The urban fairytale he created was fascinating: I wish I could step into his imagination. The writing in Neverwhere was as good as ever and I thought it was a very clever book. Engaging and quick paced, the plot was inventive and there were many things that came as a surprise to me. I didn’t know till after I finished that Neverwhere was intended to be an adult version of Alice in Wonderland. Once I read that, the similarities became so obvious that I had to wonder how I didn’t see it before. Although the story and the world building were excellent, the characters kind of fell flat for me. It felt like meeting people very briefly that you could have come to like, but you never got the chance to find out. I felt like the characters were left in the background, while London Below took the forefront. Many of the characters were interesting ideas, including Lamia, the villains and Door. While I loved the Gaiman’s other books that I’ve read, I didn’t feel emotionally invested in this one. I was never fully immersed in the world Gaiman created, and I don’t think Neverwhere left me with the lasting impression I experienced with Stardust. I still enjoyed this book and the world Richard discovered, but I wouldn’t recommend this as someone’s first book by Neil Gaiman.


“He had noticed that events were cowards: they didn't occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once.”


  1. I always see it being referred to as one of his best books! If you didn't like it as much, I don't think I would. Definitely a library borrow.

  2. I'm a big Gaiman fan and I would agree that this isn't the book you should start with.



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