Book Review: Neverwhere

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Title: Neverwhere

Author: Neil Gaiman

Publisher: Headline Publishing Group

Publication Date: 2013

Synopsis: Under the streets of London there’s a world most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There’s a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining… And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.

Rating: 4/5

Review: This book was a strange one. I was more transfixed by the world that had been created than the story itself, I feel if they had simply explored and wandered around London Below I would have enjoyed it more. I didn’t think the plot line itself packed a punch, I actually thought it was quite mundane, however, the entire world that Neil Gaiman created is simply amazing. The thought process behind it all is astonishing and, even though the story line didn’t grab me, you cannot help but be in awe of this man’s genius. Every place in London had a reason, for example, Blackfrairs received its name from the Black Friars who reside in London Below; Old Bailey looks after the birds on the rooftops and Earl’s Court is in fact a Court of an Earl. It seems absurd but, once you enter the world of London Below, it all falls into place.

The protagonist Richard is a good character, you cannot help but feel for him when he falls between the cracks for simply helping Door. He is such a good character because you can feel him trying to make sense of it, to hunt for the rational explanation as well as not changing himself radically after everything he went through. There was no major transformation, no dramatic change in him, he simply went from being walked-over Richard to someone who is much more confident and more worldly. The little events change him and he outgrows London Above and realises that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Door wasn’t a very strong character, I felt she was dwarfed by Richard and the Marquis. I feel she may have been the reason why the plot didn’t pack much of a punch. However, the Marquis was a fabulous character and used to add a dash of cynicism and carelessness. The parts he wasn’t in I missed him and he’s one of the characters in the book that you can’t help but love.

It is the ending that bumps this book from a 3.5 rating up to a 4 as it is ended perfectly. There’s no fanfare or major event, just a simple gesture that ties everything up in a bow. In the end, even though the plot itself could have done with a bit more oomph, the world itself was truly magical and I just know the next time I am in London, I will be trying to find the cracks into London Below.

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