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Neverwhere: Book Review

(The Verge) – There’s a world that rests just out of reach of our own.  It’s infinitely more dangerous, incredibly exciting, and a whole lot more magical than the Earth that we all know.
It’s called “London Below,” and exists in the world of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy book, Neverwhere.  Gaiman’s other works include the critically acclaimed American Gods, Anansi Boys, and the comic book series The Sandman.
A friend recommended this book for me during a visit to London, and I fell in love with it as the world around – and below – me came to life!
Richard Mayhew, the protagonist, is a normal, if somewhat bumbling man living in London with his overbearing fiancée.  He encounters a young woman named Door on the street during the night, wounded and in need of escaping from the two assassins who are after her.  Richard ends up taking her in, discovering that she has the power to “open anything” (which is much cooler than it sounds, and is not limited to doors).  She eventually pulls him into the world of London Below, a mysterious, parallel world beneath the sewers of London.  In becoming a part of that world of mythological and historical creatures, Richard loses his job and his very identity, so he struggles throughout the story to make sense of all the madness and get his life back.

If you like a good fantasy read, then resort to “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman.Image taken from: impossibletosay.files.wordpress.com

This was my first book I’ve read written purely by Neil Gaiman, the first being Good Omens, which was a collaboration with Terry Pratchett.  I enjoyed both books, as both simultaneously contain a whimsical and dark feeling.  This one takes place in a city very close to my heart, so I was able to appreciate most of the details and the supernatural spin on popular places in London, such as the Underground, the River Thames, and Knightsbridge (in London Below, a bridge that’s actually called “Night’s Bridge”).
Gaiman gives us a colorful cast of characters that we all come to love over the course of the story.  Richard Mayhew is the unlucky everyman, relatable in so many ways, who develops into a proper hero in his adventures.  His companion, Door, is an enigmatic young woman who leads him along with the Marquis de Carabas, a cunning man who is even more mysterious.  A stoic warrioress, aptly named Hunter, acts as their bodyguard while Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, a pair of assassins, pursue them.  The characterization in the story is easily one of its strong points, and every single one of them is a delight to read.
The world of London Below is brought to life with Neil Gaiman’s unique writing style, quirky and fun but with a dark, serious plot that keeps its readers enthralled.  This book is at the top of my recommendations list for anyone who enjoys a fantasy novel with a unique twist!  There are some details that people familiar with London are more likely to catch, but don’t let that deter you from being drawn into Gaiman’s world of London Below.  It just made me miss the city even more!