Monday, 3 March 2014

"Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman - review

Share it Please
Title: Neverwhere
Author: Neil Gaiman
First Published: 1996
Publisher: Harper Torch Fiction
Pages: 383
Genere: Fantasy/Adventure
Format/Source: Paperback - Christmas Gift
"Richard had noticed that events were cowards: they didn't occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once."

It all starts when Londoner Richard Mayhew helps a mysterious girl he finds injured pavement and takes her home. Twentyfour hours later the girl has left and he finds that his life was practically erased: His desk at his work was put away, his apartment is for rent and his fiancée doesn't recognise him. Even weirder, nobody even notices him anymore. The only alternative he sees is to look for the girl he found on the sidewalk and so he tumbles into London Below - a strange world of mysterious creatures, baronies and a little magic. Where there is an earl in Earl's Court (an London Underground car) and black friars at Blackfriars. The girl Richard helped turns out to be, in fact, a lady, the lady Door.

As Richard finds out, the Lady's family has been murdered not long ago and she is pursued by the two most feared cutthroats in London Below - Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. To find out why her family was killed, Door sets out to find the angel Islington - together with the strange, cunning and deceiving Marquis de Carabas who still owed Door a favour; the bodyguard Hunter, a fierce hunter whose aspiration it is to kill the Great Beast of London; and the upworlder Richard who has no idea what he got himself into and who just wants his life back.

In November I saw this in the local bookshop and I came extremely close to buying it. Then again, shortly before Christmas in the bookshop in my grandma's town, I very almost bought it - But my dad told me to wait till after Christmas, and see what I'll get: And indeed, my auntie bought me this book along with "Anansi Boys", another book by Neil Gaiman. Actually I should have forseen it, I put "Anything by Neil Gaiman" on my christmas-list after reading "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" (A completely magical book). Okay anyway, I got this Harper and Torch Edition which wouldn't have been my first choice because of the mediocre cover design, but okay, it's the content that counts.

After "The Ocean at the End of the Land" my expectations were fairly high and the were not dissappointed. With this book, as well as the other one I already read, I immediately got sucked in into a world of wonder and magic and mystery and I jut didn't want to leave it anymore, that's probably why it didn't take me long to read.
And really, from the beginning on you just got hooked onto fascinating characters:

Awesome fanart of Croup and Vandemar
The frightening assasin-duo Croup and Vandemar who have the disconcerting habit of munching on raw animals and pottery. 
The young lady Door who can not only open any door at touch, but also can make new portals.
The Marquis de Carabas, a liar and fraudster who knows exactly where to get his information from and how to play people so that he gets what he wants.
An unbelievably beautiful woman who doesn't just have the looks but also is the best bodyguard on the underside and who killed beasts of New York (a giant crocodile), Berlin (a bear who could apparently speak human), and Calcutta (a black Tiger), thus gaining her name that has become a legend in London Below: Hunter.
And finally Richard Mayhew, a young guy who has no idea how he ended up in the sewers of London looking for an Angel and who just wants to go back to his old home.
Granted, I don't read many fantasy books but I can't remember a book with such unique characters besides maybe "Lord of the Rings" and the "The Hobbit".

But it's not only the characters, just the thought that a world so much more exciting and wonderful and frightening than ours could exist right below our noses without us even noticing is fascinating. At first completely absurd but actually really possible because, let's face it, how many of us know, from experience, what really happens in the cannalisation and tunnels below us? And now I keep wondering if I ever just overlooked people or if I ever knew someone who just faded away after he fell through the cracks.

The story was really enchanting and relatively fast paced, although there definitely were a few sections where you can catch a breath. On the other hand, there were also scenes that downright made me gag, as brutal as they were. There was one particular death were the victim was pretty much tortured to death and there is more torture towards the end of the book. And here, Neil Gaiman's particular writing style kicks in. Pain and death aren't just described so plain and quick as Stephen King does that in "Under the Dome" (which has other pros and cons), and that is really hard to stomach at times. 
But don't get me wrong, I am in love with Neil Gaiman's writing. He doesn't just write to get the story out but makes his books art with his words. For example the quote above. Or this one (I just opened my book at a random page and then picked it out:
"Richard found himself amazed that Door was able to keep her temper in the face of the earl's losing battle with temporal drift."
Neil Gaiman does amazing things with words and in the end he even evokes compassion for the two cruel murderes.
I loved "The Ocean at the End of the lane" and I loved this book. I have another book of Neil Gaiman at home and I'm sure I will love that one too. So yeah, way to go Neil Gaiman!

This book is a perfect example of "Don't judge a book by it's cover". It's now one of my favourites and I can fully recommend this to you, I liked it even though I'm not normally into Fantasy. It paints a whole magical world that could be there right under your feet. The only thing you have to be careful about is: Even though Neil Gaiman writes children's books, this isn't one, it's more YA. And if you have a weak stomach, be carefuly about reading this.

Rating: 5/5 Absoultely love

If you liked this book:
  • The book is based on a 90s TV-Series produced by Neil Gaiman. I didn't watch it, but supposedly it wasn't all too good.
  • BBC recently made an absolutely brilliant all stars radio play starring James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Nat Dormer (amongst others)

No comments:

Post a Comment


Follow The Author