Book: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Good, but much the same as many of his others

Neil Gaiman
Harper, 2001
ISBN-10: 0-06-055781-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-055781-2
370 pages

Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller. So it's a bit of a pity that, as far as I can tell, he has only one story to tell. It's the Alice in Wonderland story (or, if you prefer, the Opheus and Eurydice story) about an everyman character caught at the junction between the mundane world and a magical one. (Which could be taken, kind of recursively, as a metaphor for reading if you were the sort of person who wanted to do that.) In the case of Neverwhere, our everyman is Richard Mayhew who is an investment analyst in London. He has a pretty nice life except for his dreadful fiancee.

Richard and his fiancee are on their way to an important dinner when he stops to help a bedraggled girl in distress. Richard and Jessica are already late, but Richard does it anyway, much to Jessica's displeasure. Richard takes the girl to his home to get her cleaned up and she turns out to be (wait for it) a refugee from a magical place called London Below. London Below is where people who fall through the cracks of the ordinary London end up, and its residents of are generally pretty invisible to the residents of London Above. Many of the people and locations in London Below are related to London Underground stations. There are literal black friars, a down street, an earl's court and so forth.

Richard is dragged into a quest involuntarily by his association with the girl, but (wait for it) comes to respect and even like some of the people he's thrown together with.

If there's nothing much surprising in Neverwhere except for the particulars, Mr Gaiman tells his story well enough that it's worth reading every time. This short book (370 pages but the type is big and set loosely) is very suitable for a few evenings' entertainment.

Posted: Fri - November 7, 2008 at 06:30 PM   Main   Category: