Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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Fantasy is a magical genre, where anything and everything usually can happen. But, when we think fantasy, we think knights and dragons, witches and wizards, and all the like that come with them…right? Wrong. In Neverwhere, we find ourselves in plain old London, with plain old Richard Mayhew, a tourist from America.

It doesn't scream classic fantasy, but that's one of the aspects that make it inspiring. Neverwhere combines modern world settings and characters, and transplants them into a rich, full, and all together amazing new world. Richard finds himself in London, preparing to marry his fiancée, Jessica, and having a tough time of impressing anyone, even her. This all changes one night, when he discovers a young, beautiful woman, named “Door”, badly injured. Of course, being a down-on-his-luck nice guy, he helps her out, returning her to his apartment.

Instantly, his life is flipped upside-down, when his friends and family altogether forget who he is, strange, vicious men in overcoats threaten his very existence, and he finds himself sucked into Door's home, “London Below.” The situation is made altogether more puzzling when Richard is accidentally set out on a quest to find the “Angel Islington”, a mysterious figure who may be Door's only hope for escape, and Richard's only way home.

Of course, no story in this genre is complete without villains, and Neverwhere certainly hands these to you on a gold and silver platter. The two main villains, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, have some of the most hilarious, scary, and downright bone-chilling moments in the entire book. From the quick-witted, quick-tempered Mr. Croup, to the stoic, feels-no-pain-whatsoever Mr. Vandemar, these are truly well developed villains.

Richard encounters many different, strange people along his journey, including Hunter, the ruthless huntress of great beasts, Lamia, a soul sucking vampire, and the Marquis de Carabas, a sarcastic, pompous guardian who watches over the young “Door.”

Now, Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite authors. His books are quirky, fun, and always great to read. Neverwhere, however, is EASILY my favorite book written by him. The great characters (especially Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar) make you chuckle, frighten you, suck you in, and tell you their story with bravado and excellence. Neil Gaiman's witty sense of humor, and quirky characters leap from the pages of this book, as if they are right there in your living room.

The fantasy genre is slowly becoming less and less popular among teens, and it's disheartening, to say the least. So, when a modern classic such as Gaiman comes along and revives things in only the way he can, it brings with it a profound sense of greatness and perfection. Neverwhere delivers an astonishingly great story, and greater still characters. Everyone within the story, whether they play a large or a small part, is clearly defined as someone you want, or don't want, to meet.

Neverwhere is a great experience, and I wish that I could read it, for the first time, again. Plot twists and mysteries, action and romance, there's almost nothing more Gaiman could have put into this book to make it better, though I'm sure, with his talent, he could have figured something out. As well, the rumored sequel is rather exciting, too…

Picking up this book is definitely a good idea, for those who are Gaiman fans, fans of the genre, or just plain casual readers. An amazing story that will stand the test of time, Neverwhere will remain in my head for years to come. Readers should prepare for an intriguing and thrilling ride through the caverns and taverns of “London Below” and the amazing storytelling contained within Neverwhere.





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