Book Review – Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Year of Release: 1996
Read 460-page paperback edition in September 2018.
Neil Gaiman’s imagination is amazing, and this novel is no exception. This is one of those novels that is compulsively readable, and once you start reading this novel, you simply cannot put it down.
The creativity behind Gaiman’s world in London Below is fantastic. The characters are enjoyable and strange, and the vivid settings of the sewers, the subways, and the markets are lush with sights, smells and sounds that you almost feel like you are there.
Gaiman’s primary character Richard is loveable and sweet, and the secondary characters surrounding Richard are intriguing and quirky. We learn quite quickly that there may be a traitor in the little group’s midst, and it adds a level of suspense as we move forward with the narrative.
The plot moves quickly, and thus we have a great combination of fast-paced story and interesting characters that we care about and want to learn more about. As we move forward, once can really get the sense that Gaiman’s dark urban fantasy likely inspired the sub-genre to take flight, and today we have many novels in this vein by other authors. However, this is truly one of the best.
In addition to the fantasy, Gaiman also does a wonderful job at humour in this book. His writing is witty and his use of wry humour totally works.
One example, when speaking about the importance of the sewer system, between two characters who always have the “Mister” in front of their names in the entire novel:
“They turned their backs on the brown water, and made their way back into the tunnels. ‘With cities, as with people, Mister Vandemar,’ said Mister Croup, fastidiously, ‘the condition of the bowels is all-important.’ ” <Page 288>
Another example, after Richard is hung over from drinking wine from Atlantis:
” ‘No wonder Atlantis sank,’ muttered Richard. ‘If they all felt like this in the morning, it was probably a relief.’ ” <Pages 241-242>
The action is fast-paced, and there is a lot of imaginative, dark, gritty fantasy woven throughout the story. But the humour is also woven in, creating a truly enjoyable read. This is definitely a success, and you end the novel wanting to read more about this world and its characters, which is the best success an author can have.
Overall: 5 stars out of 5 stars