Fantasy and adventure in Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

9 months ago Shaili Desai 0

Neil Gaiman is undoubtedly one of the best fantasy novelists of all time. He has a special way with words, and a rather wondrous way of creating alternate fantastical worlds. They are intricately and beautifully crafted. But is Neverwhere one his finest works? Not in my opinion, at least.

A saga of a new world – “London Below”

Neverwhere started out as a television series with only six episodes back in 1996, written by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry. Soon novelized, Neverwhere is about a young ordinary businessman – Richard Mayhew, who leads a normal life with a stable career. He has a nice apartment and a snobbish but beautiful fiancée he is in love with. However, his life completely changes one night when he gives into his compassionate self and decides to help a young, injured girl found lying on the pavement outside a restaurant.

neverwhere by neil gaimanBook Cover, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Soon, he discovers a new world – London Below – which happens to be inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks. These are rats, rat-speakers, people with magical abilities, angels, and other weird creatures that have Gaiman written all over them. The story is all about the chaos that Richard has to deal with, once he becomes a part of this new world, or rather – the world he gets stuck in. There are adventures, misadventures and some really horrifying scenes, which make the book worth one’s time.

Character analysis and Gaiman as a writer in Neverwhere

Neverwhere was a friend’s recommendation, whose taste in books I happen to trust. He told me this book is even better than Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, and that got me pretty excited. But I’m afraid I don’t have a similar view. The Graveyard Book was more simplistic and the characters were a delight. I think that’s one of my main issues with Neverwhere. The only character I happened to like, was the Marquis de Carabas, an ambiguous but enterprising character in the book. The other characters were weak and a few interesting ones probably deserved more detailing. One would expect the protagonist to go through some serious character development, considering all that he goes through. However, that doesn’t really happen. The reader ends up disappointed in that respect. There is one segment I absolutely loved though, where Gaiman describes how darkness really feels:

“Richard began to understand darkness: darkness as something solid and real, so much more than a simple absence of light. He felt it touch his skin, questing, moving, exploring: gliding through his mind. It slipped into his lungs, behind his eyes, into his mouth…”

Neil Gaiman is beyond a shadow of doubt, an excellent writer. I would recommend this book to all the fantasy lovers out there, because despite its shortcomings, it’s a great read which will take you to a haunting new world and leave a strong impact on your psyche.

Neil Gaiman, Author of Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman (Image Source: Newstatesman)

However, I would not recommend this book as an introduction to Neil Gaiman’s style of writing. If you’ve never read a Gaiman book, I suggest you start with The Graveyard Book, or maybe American Gods. But yes, this author is someone you would not want to miss out on for sure.

About the Book

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Headline Publishing Group, 400 Pages

Reviewed by Sherry Verma

Stories collected by Neil Gaiman in ‘Unnatural Creatures’, published by Bloomsbury. Check out the review here!