I first read Neverwhere about three years ago, before I started this blog. It was the first Neil Gaiman novel I had ever read. And I immediately fell in love. And while it made an appearance in the very first post I every published on Adventures of a Bibliophile, I have never actually reviewed it. Since I finally read it for the second time (I just finished my reread last night), I thought I would fix that. So here is my review of Neverwhere. It is a little biased, since this was already one of my favorite novels.
(From Goodreads) Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere.
Neverwhere has been one of my favorite books for years now, and my second reading did not disappoint! I am always a bit wary about reading books now that I have a master’s degree in English (many books have been ruined by my inability to turn off my inner editor). But Neverwhere was just as magical as it was the first time around. I think a big part of that is due to the fact that this was my first experience reading Neil Gaiman. And the way he writes is just… otherworldly. Rereading this book, I found myself remembering phrases and passages that had blown me away three years ago. A particular favorite is how he describes “Mind the Gap” on the Underground as “aural wallpaper”. It’s so simple, but no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to put words together that brilliantly. There’s something magical about it.
And, lest you think I only like this book for its writing, I also adore the story and the characters. The characters are truly diverse and dynamic. I love how there is such a mix of different cultures, from something akin to Elizabethan in Earl’s Court to the ratspeaskers, there is something knew everywhere you turn in this book. And, since the main character, Richard, is experiencing it all for the first time, too, it’s very easy to identify with him and fall into his crazy experience.
I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but I will say it is definitely one of the most creative books I’ve read. Gaiman managed to create a familiar fantasy world, one that takes the world we know and love, and flips everything we think we know upside down. It’s magical and realistic all at the same time. And it’s absolutely brilliant.
★★★★★ – After reading it for a second time, I am pretty confident in saying that Neverwhere is one of my favorite books. It’s just pure magic. I’m still completely amazed that this is Gaiman’s first novel.
You can purchase a copy of Neverwhere on Amazon.
To get the audiobook for free, use this link to sign up for a free trial of Audible and choose Neverwhere as one of your two free books! I highly recommend the audiobook – Gaiman’s voice is almost as magical as his writing. And, if you like Neverwhere, check out the BBC radio version – also available on Audible – starring James McEvoy, Natalie Dormer, and Benedict Cumberbatch. (I plan on listening to it again today.)
I’m curious: what is your favorite Neil Gaiman book?