Book of the Month: “Neverwhere”

I’ve recently been converted to Gaimanism (@AlwaysUpAndDown assures me that I’m a Gaimaniac now), and after devouring Coraline, I decided to try out Neverwhere, mostly because I like dark and creepy things. Gaiman likes to write dark and creepy things. It’s perhaps an author/reader partnership made in heaven. Or, err…the other place. Or no place at all depending on your belief system. Whatever. 14497

Gaiman doesn’t disappoint when it comes to dark and creepy either. Neverwhere, which is also a BBC television series and radio play, follows the story of one Richard Mayhew, who meets Door, a citizen of London Below. Soon Mayhew is pulled into the world underneath London Above, and into Door’s adventures.

Door’s family was murdered, and she is relentlessly pursued by a Mr. Croup and a Mr. Vandemar. Richard first meets Door when she tries to escape the two cutthroats in London Above, and it is his Good Samaritan act that leads him to having his existence erased from London Above. Once he enters London Below, he encounters a great many creatures and entities that are completely foreign to him, as he vows to help Door complete her quest to solve the mystery of her family’s murder and restore peace to London Below.

It’s a sort-of fairytale that oozes the dark and mysterious, and the fantastical world that Gaiman weaves for us is not complicated like a Tolkien or Martin secondary world, rather, the true mastery of the story lies in the connections it has to our primary world. It’s the pang of recognition I got every time I rode the Tube to Angel Station, knowing that it had just been mentioned on the previous page of the novel. It’s the unique charm the book has by taking the familiar–the Tube stations, Harrods, the museums–and turning them into something new and exciting for us to experience. Almost every chapter, I’d encounter a landmark that I had just walked past, or, in one rather peculiar coincidence, the moment when I read about Shepherd’s Bush in London Below as I sat at Shepherd’s Bush in London Above.

Yeah, it was kinda trippy.

I highly recommend this book if you’ve enjoyed Tim Burton films, Stephen King books, or if you’ve enjoyed other Gaiman works (he’s even penned a Doctor Who episode or two). His writing is simple, clear, and addictive. If you have a commute on the Tube or other mass transit, it’s a perfect readalong for the commute. If you commute by car, allow me to recommend the BBC4 Radio play, which has such actors as Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, Christopher Lee, and Natalie Dormer reading parts. You can purchase the audiobook from the BBC broadcast in the iTunes store.

Need more Gaiman? Well, head over to this lovely blog, My Infernal Imagination, and read about Neil Gaiman’s “Fragile Things.”

Happy reading, my friends.

-The Collectress

8 Comments

  1. Bec Graham

    I am so glad that you liked Neverwhere! Gaiman is seriously just a genius. The way he makes the everyday seem magical? It’s just awesome. You should give his short story “A Study In Emerald” a go. Yes, Sherlock AND Gaiman. It’s mind blowing 🙂
    The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is another testament to Gaiman’s genius. Although I didn’t realuse until I was reviewing it, the protagonist doesn’t have a name. But it’s one of those subtle things that doesn’t seem incredible until later.
    I’m glad I’ve converted you to Gaimanism. Currently trying to convert a friend of mine. He’s struggling with Neverwhere a little. Gaiman is so not his genre…but it will be mwa ha ha 😆

    1. The Collective Blog

      I’ve heard that “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is spectacular. I shall add it to my list of books to review! This month I’m reading a crime novel…not usually my cup of tea but it’s got a female serial killer and I’m intrigued.

      But yes, more Gaiman. Always more Gaiman. -TC

      1. Bec Graham

        It is. It really is. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is just wickedly amazing.
        And seriously, what a coincidence, I’m reading a crime book at the moment too! Totally not my usual thing, but Candice Fox (an Aussie author) made Hades seem irresistible. I’ve burned through 3/4 of the book in just shy of two days and I’m already planning on preordering the next one. You should check it out on GoodReads!

        https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18362860-hades?from_search=true

      2. The Collective Blog

        You know, sometimes I think that we might be twins separated on different continents, since our interests are so similar! I’m adding this one to my must-read list as well! Are you going to be reviewing it on your blog?

      3. Bec Graham

        Me too! Feel free to sling some book recommendations my way 🙂
        And I definitely will be. Probably by Friday (which I think will be Thursday where you are) cos I’ve sped through it. Which kinda sucks cos the second one doesn’t come out until December >.<

  2. Andy Mulberry

    Love Gaiman, he’s a literary genius. I read “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” in one sitting…it’s not a particularly lengthy book but packs a punch. I’m a long time Gaimaniac 🙂

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