Having read Gaiman’s graphic novel, Coraline, I was eager to dig into his adult fantasy, Neverwhere, but as I moved through this book, I kept experiencing déjà vu. I began rooting through my old paperbacks and found that I had read Neverwhere when it was first published in 1996. I felt good knowing this wasn’t a flashback like having a purple pony dance on your pillow. Not that I would know anything about that. It did happen to a friend of mine, though.
ANYWAY . . .
This is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young businessman in London, who has a good job, a grand heart, and a fiancé who rules him with an iron fist. It is also the story of London Above, London Below, and a girl named Door. (Dragon note: one day I’d like to know about Mr. Gaiman’s fixation with doors . . .)
On his way to dinner with his fiancé, Richard comes across an injured girl lying in the street, and though his fiancé demands that they leave the girl alone, Richard helps her by taking her to his apartment. When she awakens, she tells Richard that her name is Door and that he must find the marquis de Carabas, who owes her a favor and will take care of her. What she doesn’t tell Richard is that her family has been murdered, and that two of the most entertaining villains that I’ve had the good fortune to read are hot on her trail – Mister Croup and Mister Vandemar, who live by the motto: “Things to do. People to damage.”
Unfortunately, after his contact with the marquis and Door, Richard suddenly ceases to exist in London Above. Richard embarks on a trip to London Below where he hopes to find the secret that will allow him to return to his normal life in London Above, but London Below is a place fraught with magic and intrigue. Joining the marquis and Door in their hunt for the killers of Door’s family and pursued by the vicious Croup and Vandemar, Richard struggles to understand himself and the strange new world he inhabits.
Gaiman gives us a wonderful romp with delightful characters. At times laugh out loud funny, poignant, and just plain fun, Neverwhere takes the reader on a wild ride through London Below where nothing is sacred, neither angels nor death.