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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet


Title: Neverwhere
Genre: Fantasy

Originally Published: September 16, 1996
Edition Courtney Read Published: Aug 27, 2014
Format: Audio book
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Scribd

The Story

NeverwhereFrom the Scribd book page:

Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.

“A fantastic story that is both the stuff of dreams and nightmares” (San Diego Union-Tribune), Neil Gaiman’s first solo novel has become a touchstone of urban fantasy, and a perennial favorite of readers everywhere.

The Response

There’s really something so wonderful about listening to Gaiman narrate his own books. Reading his books on their own is magical – the way he phrases everything brings the characters, the setting and the events to life… but hearing the way he puts his own inflection on things gives you a bit of an insight into how he views everything that happens in his own stories – it’s almost like you’re getting a peek into this man’s own imagination.

This book has been on my radar for quite a while – I’m slowly making my way through Gaiman’s full catalogue of books. (Which is admittedly a lot harder than most authors I try to do this for, as he’s still actively publishing books.) I find his books some of the more exciting and entrancing fantasy that I’ve read in a very long time. Neverwhere actually may have originally come across my radar as something I needed to bump up the TBR list because it was done as a BBC radio play, with a whole all-star cast. (After reading this I definitely NEED to listen to this radio play now!)

The world that Gaiman has created for Neverwhere is absolutely intoxicating. I thought I was tired of fairy worlds, I truly did, but this one felt more real and new. The spin that Gaiman put on it, where angels were also a part of fairy, was such a novelty and made it seem like if there are people who can really believe that angels are real, maybe fey could be real as well! There was also so much atmosphere in this book that it wasn’t difficult to really picture the settings in the book – whether the Floating Market, or Islington’s residence, or even just every day London.

Even better than the world, though, were the characters. Going through Richard Mayhew’s journey with him was an absolute joy. Not only was he likeable in and of himself but he also met some of the most interesting characters – from Anaesthesia the human girl who became a rat speaker, to Door the fairy, to Dora’s bodyguard Hunter, to the Marquis de Carabas, to even the Messrs Croup and Vandemar. I mean, how often can you say to yourself that you loved the bad guys of a novel? (Okay, there is Snape in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books… and I can’t forget about Hook in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan… well, you get the picture.) But I seriously really liked the two thugs in this book. The parts they were included in were by far some of my favourites.

Richard Mayhew himself really reminded me of Arthur Dent from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, actually. He had a very similar disposition, and then there was the fact that he was an everyman thrown into an absolutely fantastic situation that he’s not entirely sure he wants to be a part of.

Tangent – John and I were talking about Gaiman the other day, as John’s not a huge fantasy reader and wanted to try to figure out what Gaiman is known best for. There are many people who you know primarily for writing novels, while other people know primarily from comic books, and still others know from writing scripts for television and movies. It’s quite amazing how many different arenas Gaiman has managed to become known for.

The Bottom Line

Definitely recommended to fantasy fans, if you haven’t read it yet. Looking forward to the next Gaiman I pick up!

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:10 am May 1, 2015.
Category: Speculative Fiction
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