Rating: 4.5 Stars
There are some books that I would never even have thought of buying if it hadn’t been for Instagram. This applies to Fantasy more than any other genre. I don’t know why that is, because I have read some fantastic books belonging to the genre during the last year or so. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is one of them.
Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, who moves to London from a small Scottish town. At first overwhelmed in such a big city, he soon settles into a routine and his awe with London recedes. Then he meets Jessica, who is way out of his league and turns him into a scatter brain, and Richard finds himself engaged to a woman much more ambitious and determined than him.
One evening, when everything seems to be going wrong for Richard, he stumbles upon a bleeding girl on the street, and stops to help her. If things were bad before, they become unbearably worse after his decision to defy Jessica and help a fellow human in need. For the injured girl is the Lady Door from Neverwhere.
Neverwhere is the shadowy reflection of London which exists underneath the London known to man. It is a world with monsters and assassins, angels and demons, and everything that has ever slipped through the cracks of the real world into this underground world.
Richard is drawn unwillingly into this world when it seems that he has stopped existing in London Above. Now he has to stick to Door and her shady companions if he ever wants to go back to his former life. But the Lady Door is on a suicide mission to avenge the death of her family at the hands of the most gruesome and terrifying murderers that history has ever seen, and it seems likely that Richard will just be one of the casualties of this crazy quest.
As grave and serious as the story sounds, it is anything but. It is irreverant and witty, and I fell in love with most of the characters. While Richard is funny as the clueless man being taken on an adventure against his will, and Door is admirable in her quest to find out the truth, it is the Marquis de Carabas who steals the show! And yes, the Marquis is named after the fictional Marquis from the very famous fairy tale, Puss in Boots.
Neverwhere is a roller coaster ride of adventure, as the motley crew consisting of Richard, Door, de Carabas and Hunter, the bodyguard, dashes across London Above and Neverwhere to find the answers needed to solve their problems. The characters they meet on the way are no less remarkable. Whether it is Anaesthesia, the rat girl, the Earl from Earl’s Court or the Angel Islington, every character is tongue-in-cheek and batshit crazy!
It would be remiss of me if I don’t mention the two terrifying murderers who are after Door from the beginning of the book. They are the main villians, and as villainous as a villian can ever hope to be. Maybe even more. They are Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. They are filthy and disgusting, with terrible table manners and no sense of humour. And they are hilarious! Even when they are dismembering and torturing living things, their banter doesn’t stop.
At the end of the edition I was reading, is a bonus story about my favourite, Marquis de Carabas. And it was a bonus, because I have not had my fill of this wonderful, mad world called Neverwhere, and would love to visit it again some time. A fun read to take your mind off real world problems.