Author: Neil Gaiman
Page Count/Review Word Count: 388
There are a few things I need to clear up before I get into the bones of this review. The first is that I started reading Neverwhere because I’m getting involved with a London book club, and as the first host I was able to take my pick of the titles that the club will discuss – the only catch is that all of the books are London-themed. I actually studied London in Literature as a module at university and so a lot of the books on the list were books that I’d already read. But I’ve read some Gaiman before and this one was new to me, so it was a no-brainer.
The second thing that I wanted to mention was the sad death of Terry Pratchett, a personal hero of mine, due to Alzheimer’s disease. Pratchett passed away whilst I was reading this, which brought his death home even closer – I’ve already read Good Omens, which Pratchett and Gaiman wrote together, and the two authors were close friends. On the blurb of the book, Wired even says that it’s “the sort of book Terry Pratchett might produce if he spent a month locked in a cell with Franz Kafka.”
I’m not going to talk more about Pratchett, nor indeed about London apart from to point out that the novel is set in the city and, to a certain extent, underneath it. The locations in the book do, of course, help to define it, but it’s the characters and the story line which really grip you – loosely speaking, we follow a loose band of heroes through the murky underworld of a second London, which thrives beneath the streets and in the sewers.
It’s a vividly-described and thoroughly engrossing hybrid between a sociological satire and an honest-to-goodness fantasy novel, with elements of other genres thrown in. If London is a melting pot for different cultures, Gaiman’s work is a melting pot for different genres, and it’s fascinating to see how they’ve evolved over time and formed their own unique fusion.
This might not be Gaiman’s finest work, but it is still a fantastic piece in its own right, and it’s one that’s definitely worth reading if you get a chance to do so.