I mentioned last week that I’ve been on a Neil Gaiman kick didn’t I? Neverwhere is his novelisation of a television series he wrote in the mid-90s. You read that right – Neverwhere was a TV series before it was a novel. In fact, there are several novelisations, all by Gaiman: a British version, an American version and the “Author’s preferred” text, which basically attempts to unify the other two. I read the Author’s preferred version.
Richard Mayhew, is a perfectly normal human being who lives a perfectly normal life in London with his perfectly normal job and his perfectly normal fiancée, Jessica. That is, until one day he sees a young girl lying bleeding in the street, and insists upon helping her. She refuses his offers to call an ambulance, and instead agrees to be taken to his apartment for first aid. The young girl, who introduces herself as “Door”, speaks to a rat in Richard’s apartment, and then sends Richard out to find a man called “The Marquis de Carabas”. The Marquis comes to collect Door, and they both apologise to Richard for the trouble. We soon find out exactly how much trouble Richard is in… he becomes invisible to not only taxi-drivers and train conductors, but also his fiancée, co-workers and landlord. He has fallen through the cracks and become part of London’s “Underside”. Richard has no choice but to find Door and the Marquis, while being pursued by the villainous Croup and Vandemar, who have their own reasons for finding Door.
This is one of those books where giving out too much detail in a review would, I believe, spoil the experience of reading it. It should be enough to say that Richard is on a wild ride, and as he has no idea what is in store for him, the reader shouldn’t know too much in advance either. If you’ve read Gaiman before, you’ll know that he peoples his worlds with strange but loveable characters, who generally experience situations previously thought to be impossible. This formula really works for Gaiman, and it’s why I love his writing so much. I will say one more thing… this is definitely NOT a children’s book, and contains some filthy language, along with some detestable characters who do disgusting things… You have been warned, but seriously – read it anyway!