Warning: If you have not read “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman, don’t read this review unless you’ve already read the book if you want to avoid spoilers! If you don’t mind spoilers or you already read the book, though, go ahead.
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.”
I’m shocked that I haven’t reviewed any of his writing yet on this blog, so I’m glad I picked up this book to read and review! Also, to clarify right before I start my review, I read the “Author’s Preferred Text” version of the book, as I know there are different versions of this novel.
I found the worldbuilding of this book to be incredibly intricate and interesting to read about. Immediately I get sucked into Richard’s point-of-view—London Below feels so fresh, new, and so incredibly different from London Above. I cannot stress enough how interesting the worldbuilding is and how it affects not just Richard, but the other characters—that’s something you have to read for yourself to understand.
The characters were a huge highlight of the book, and the continuity involving them is so interesting. Gaiman writes his characters to have impacts on each other, even the minor ones. For instance, early on in the book there’s a rat-girl named Anaesthesia who Richard kind of bonds with…only for her to literally disappear while guiding him to one of his destinations. Richard immediately feels guilty for the loss of her, knowing that her disappearance was because she was guiding him to where he needed to go, and this actually haunts him on-and-off for a good few chapters.
Richard himself was fun to read. Though he’s a relatively ordinary guy who probably could have died early on in the book if not for the help of Door, the Marquis and Hunter, it’s clear that he has some hidden depths. He’s very human, for lack of better words, and the stresses of his normal life, as well as his interactions with the rest of the characters in this book, made it easy to understand how he felt and why he did what he did.
Door, The Marquis and Hunter quickly became my favourites as well, especially Hunter. I was definitely not expecting her to betray Richard and the others late in the book, though I am glad for the later redemption she got—even if it did, unfortunately, mean her death. Also, the vibes I’m picking up from Hunter and her interactions with Lady Serpentine have me thinking that those two might have been together romantically, once, though that’s merely speculation on my part. The Marquis himself was quite hilarious, and it’s interesting how flippant and calm he can be most of the time, even when he’s on the verge of death or being threatened with death. The short story about him at the back of the book, “How the Marquis got his Coat Back,” definitely highlights this part of his personality.
Door herself was quite interesting, mysterious and I liked how, despite her seemingly being the youngest out of the main characters, that didn’t stop her from taking charge of the situation when needed. She of course had her more childlike/younger aspects, but that didn’t prevent her from being enjoyable to read. Her interactions with Richard were definitely a highlight of this book for sure.
Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Coup were also fun to read, as well as the Angel Islington. All three of them as villains were so interesting because of how cunning, clearly evil, and yet charismatic they all are. Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Coup may function as Islington’s goonies, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying their interactions together as an evil duo in the book, and they all made for interesting adversaries against Richard, Door, Hunter and the Marquis.
The plotline itself was interesting, and though it seems like there might be a subplot or two going on, especially when all the characters split up at various times in the book, in reality all of it is intertwined in the main plot, so it’s not really a subplot. All of the plot points mesh well with each other, and the suspense and excitement built up by this makes it fun to read. I do think the ‘epilogue’-ish part where Richard returns to London Above and realizes he doesn’t quite fit in there anymore is a little long and could have been shortened, but it was heartwarming to see that Richard figured out a way back to London Below by himself at the end, welcomed by none other than the Marquis to join him on that journey.
Overall, I’m rating this 5 out of 5 stars!