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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Posted by RB Kollannur on July 15, 2012


Note: This review is part of a weekly book review column that I write for City Journal, an English newspaper based in Thrissur, Kerala.

Published on 16/06/2012

Publisher – HarperCollins; Year of Publication – 1996; Pages – 370; Cost at the time of purchase – Rs. 258

Beneath the city of London is a fantastic world of angels, vampires, talking rats and other mystical creatures. But to see them can mean mortal peril. For once you come across them, you will be erased from the world we know.

But Richard Mayhew did not know that when he finds a dying girl on a London sidewalk.

He saves her from death only to find that everyone he knew can barely see him, much less recognize him. Frustrated he goes to London Below, the world beneath London, to find the mysterious girl and restore his life. But he encounters a lot more than for what he bargained. The girl, oddly named as Door, has had her family killed and is being by two blood thirsty assassins. She has enlisted the services of the mysterious Marquis de Carabas and the legendary Hunter for protection and has to find her parent’s killers if Mayhew is to return to life above.

Neil Gaiman crafts a delightful fantasy in Neverwhere. It was originally aired in BBC in the mid nineties as a television series and has since been adapted into a graphic novel. He weaves a world of adventure and intrigue in the sewers of London peppered with characters that you will come across in a fairy tale. There is no suspense per se, but it is the story of a quest – the quest of Door to find her parent’s killers before they find her.

Door and her companions have to perform certain tasks if she is to discover her assailants.  All of them are tricky and require sufficient talent and skill from her and her group to complete. And with assassins chasing them, they are more likely to get waylaid by them than fulfil their objective. Mayhew comes off as the odd one out – still reminiscing over his old life in the world above forgetting about the quest at hand.

Gaiman, be it in a graphic novel or otherwise, relies on his ability to imagine a visual feast for his readers. Neverwhere is no different. It is another portrayal of his exemplary creativity that can enthral any reader. It portrays many places familiar to Londoners but not too familiar to the ouside world. Fortunately, there is a detailed map to our rescue allowing the reader to create his own view of London.

While the book does foreshadow a possible sequel, it has not materialized from Gaiman’s pen a decade and half since the first book.

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One Response to “Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman”

  1. […] 13)   Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller – Published on 10/06/2012 14)   Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – Published on 16/06/2012 15)   Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – Published on 23/06/2012 16)   […]

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