Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Trevor Peacock as "Old Bailey" in the Neverwhere BBC miniseries via
Reviewed by Connie

Published: 1996

It's about: Richard Mayhew leads an ordinary life with his ordinary fiancee in ordinary London -- that is, until he crosses paths with a girl who has been seriously injured and decides to help her. This one decision turns Richard's life upside-down and leads him on a fantastical journey from London Above to London Below, a world that exists in the sewers of the city, a world with angels and deadly assassins who never die and people who converse with rats.

I thought: I began this book with really no expectations whatsoever. I knew nothing about this book, and I had never read a Neil Gaiman novel, though I suppose I should have suspected the book to be fantastical, since I knew the movies Coraline and Stardust were both based off of Gaiman books. That being said, I was a little off-put at first when characters began speaking to rats and referencing "London Below." Those aren't the types of books I typically read.

However, I stuck this one out, mainly because the writing was so enjoyable, and I must say, I'm glad I did.

Gaiman manages to craft an enjoyable story with believable characters and to keep a non-fantasy reader like myself interested the entire time, which is hard to do, as I personally find a lot of fantasy eye-roll worthy. The writing is easy and wonderfully witty (see the first excerpt below for a taste).

In a word, this book was fun. I had a lot of fun reading it, and I expect to one day have more fun re-reading it with my children when they are old enough to not be completely freaked out by and have nightmares about Croup and Vandemar.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf

Reading Recommendations: I know we just passed Halloween, but this is a perfect Halloween-y read.

Warnings: a few f-words (like, literally 3-4)

Favorite excerpts:
Croup and Vandemar via
"There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing alike at all."

"And then they set foot on Night's Bridge and Richard began to understand darkness: darkness as something solid and real, so much more than a simple absence of light. He felt it touch his skin, questing, moving, exploring: gliding through his mind. It slipped into his lungs, behind his eyes, into his mouth... It felt not so much as if the lights were being turned down but as if the darkness were being turned up."

What I'm reading next: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss