Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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Gaiman is my close friend’s favourite author, and he also wrote the book on which one of my favourite films is based (Stardust), as well as two fantastic Doctor Who episodes, so I decided to check out “Neverwhere”.

If I am honest, I don’t particularly like sorting books into genres because most of them come under a few different kinds of genres (A Song of Ice and Fire, I am looking at you). “Neverwhere” is one of those books – the closest label I can think for it is “urban fantasy”, but it can also come under YA as well as sci-fi and horror. The protagonist, Richard, is your average Joe, a Scotsman with a decent job in London and a beautiful fiancee, but his whole world is turned upside down the day he meets Door – a young, injured girl who talks about the strangest things and even stranger things are happening around her. The issue is that she is from London Below – a whole different community that literally exists below the London that we know. The prominent members of the community are rats and their Lord, pigeons, assassins, and of course, The Beast. Unfortunately, one cannot live in both London Above and London Below, which Richard soon finds out. After his old life virtually falls apart in front of him, he realises he has to find Door again, which he does. The next part of the book is Door, Richard, Hunter the bodyguard and Marquis de Carabas travelling through London Below looking for answers about the assassination of Door’s family and other things. The whole time, they are hunted by two absolutely terrifying assassins who are after Door.

This is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read. It’s not for everyone, but if you appreciate a writer with a lot of imagination who writes relatable characters in a fantasy setting, you should definitely give it a try. It’s not very long, but Gaiman writes London Below so well you feel like you are completely immersed in it. It’s very fast-paced, and the POVs occasionally switch, which is necessary for the plot. Richard’s POV is obviously central, but I also loved reading from the assassins’ POV – very chilling! The characters are really well-written, especially Richard, Door, Hunter and the villain (won’t say who, but I’m looking forward to downloading the radio play where he is read by Benedict Cumberbatch). Gaiman’s writing style is quite easy to get into, and although there are quite a few desciptions featured, they are not at all overwhelming. Overall, I’d give it an 8.5/10

Favourite character:

Marquis – he’s just badass

Most relatable character:

Richard I guess – although I’d most likely be having a much stronger reaction if I ended up in his situation!

Character who gets the most development: 

Richard of course!

Least favourite character:

I don’t.. really have any characters that I dislike? All of them are so well-written. Although, if I had to answer, I’d say Lamia – simply because snakes terrify me.

Favourite relationship:

Richard and Door – I loved their dynamics in the book, especially how much he has grown to care about her and how she is so protective of him. However, I must admit that while I enjoyed watching Laura Fraser as Door in the BBC series, she felt a bit too “adult” for Door whom I’ve always pictured as a somewhat innocent teenager. Especially the ending of the series – I never even thought of thinking of Richard and Door as romantically involved when I read the book, but the ending kinda made me, and I felt that that was an unnecessary deviation from the premise of the book.

Favourite quote: 

“The price of getting what you want is getting what once you wanted.”

Dreamcast

Door: Sophie Turner (she just has to be ginger)

Richard: Christopher Eccleston/James McAvoy

Jessica: Hayley Atwell

Marquis: Nonso Anozie/Paterson Joseph

Hunter: Tanya Moodie

Mr Croup: Hywel Bennett

Mr Vandermaar: Tom Hiddleston/Clive Russell

Recommendations:

You might like “Neverwhere” if you liked:

– The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

– The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

– “Neverwhere” 1996 BBC series and the radio adaptation

(Source of the photo: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14501.Neverwhere)

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

  1. Great post! I like your dreamcast feature.But what 8,5? I would give Neverwhere probably 9/10. Fellow Doctor Who fan I see 🙂

    When I first read Neverwhere (a long time ago) I just kept thinking how perfect name Door was. I didn’t know there was a radio play…must go find it somewhere.

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