I love reading Neil Gaiman’s writings, be it short stories or novels, adult or children’s books. His writing is both simple and intricate, dark and funny, descriptive and imaginative. Never dull.
Neverwhere introduces the reader to the alternate universe of London Bellow, a world that exists below the real and present London; a world where things, places and people end up when they fall through the cracks of our “real” world. It is in this world that our anti-hero, Richard Mayhew will explore as he strives to go back to London Above, helping Door, an almost “damsel in distress”, along the way. Don’t want to give too much of it away though, so I’ll just mention some of my favorite things in the book and what I was least pleased with.
I loved the Universe and social structure of London Below. Were it not ruled by beggars, rats and the sort, you would say we could be in the same world, or maybe we are. Early in the book, Richard “disappears” from the real world, and realizes he has become invisible to the world, much like a beggar. It is not that people don’t see them, they just don’t look at them. How often is that true in our little world?
The character of the Marquis de Carabas was particularly interesting. More than money, or objects, he will do things in turn of favors (particularly big favors!). There is always a shady feel to him, but also an understanding of his character, and I must admit that I sympathized with the character. Two of my favorite characters were Mr. Croup and Mr. Valdemar. They are fun and dark by themselves, but its their actions, their speeches, the way Gaiman brings them to live that makes you laugh at their gruesome scenes.
Finally, what I least loved was that I really didn’t grew fond of most characters. Not as much as I thought I could’ve or should have. Although it is a highly entertaining story, I felt there was something missing. The lesson Richard learns, that you don’t always know what you want, or what makes you happy, comes early as you expect it, and late, as you think throughout the story that there will be more to it. By the end of the story I was pleased, of course. The author left me in suspense in the last pages thinking whether Richard had dreamt all that and whether he is just crazy or not. Overall I recommend reading it, if not just for the fun of traveling through London Below. However, there are other stories by the author that were superior in many ways.