Neverwhere tells the story of London Below. Interestingly enough I learnt that Neverwhere was originally written as a TV series but changes and exclusions frustrated Gaiman enough to write the book as a way to tell the story as he envisioned it. In Neverwhere we meet the protagonist, Richard who crosses over into London below after he helps an injured young woman. This young woman is Door, who is escaping men contracted to kill her, men who killed her family. Somewhat reluctantly Richard assists in keeping Door safe.
I loved Gaiman’s foreword at the beginning of the novel and the way he describes the fantasy he wants to write as to “write a book that would do for adults what the books I had loved when younger, books like Alice in Wonderland, or the Narnia books, or The Wizard of Oz, did for me as a kid”. This is what I love about fantasy, this is why I read it. This is why I now own five of Gaiman’s books and plan to continue collecting them. I do have to say I did not quite love Neverwhere in the same way that I loved American Gods, but I did thoroughly enjoy it.
Gaiman created a rich, fantastical world in that of London Below. I do feel like I would have loved a little more understanding of how it worked. His descriptions are clear and fascinating – it is a world like no other I have read about but the descriptions only lead to more questions of how the strange systems worked. I also found the protagonist Richard a little grating at times. I get it, he was a reluctant hero and ordinary. Very ordinary. Did I mention that he was ordinary and just wanted is old life back? That is how the book felt at times. Then his crossover from ordinary to stepping up and becoming a bit of a hero is a little too instantaneous and contrived for me.
The protagonist may have been irritating but the supporting characters were sensational. We are introduced to probably two of the best villains you will ever come across. Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar are chillingly brutal cold-blooded killers that terrify me. Their dry, dead-pan delivery of their lines are hilarious and creepy all at the same time. Gaiman’s description of these villains is masterful and sets the scene for their macabre presence throughout the novel. Door, The Marquis and Hunter are all highlights in the novel and I found myself falling in love with each of their characters quite quickly in the novel.
Overall, I do recommend Neverwhere if you are a fan of fantasy and love nothing more than creating a fantastical world in your imagination. This is a fun, freaky and unforgettable fantasy and I give Neverwhere three keys to the doors.