To round up my 2019 Reading Challenge I choose something that I thought would be good entertainment and a bit dark so I turned to one of the masters —Neil Gaiman and I wasn’t disappointed in the least.
Gaiman has a wild imagination that I absolutely adore which is amplified by his incredible writing and ability to tell a good story. His mix of dark fantasy peppered with colorful characters and dry humor is really appealing to me.
In Neverwhere, the protagonist Richard is thrown into London Below, a beautiful but twisted reflection of reality —think “Alice in Wonderland” or “The Wizard of Oz” where one world touches but not necessarily overlaps the other.
“Young man,” he said, “understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above – that’s where you lived – and then there’s London Below – the Underside – inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night.“
But in this harsh and cruel world, bargaining with favors is a serious currency and survival is contingent on the connections you make along the way.
Being pulled into a disorienting quest with a ragtag group of characters, Richard is a reluctant adventurer completely outside of his element, thrown into what he views as a ludicrous situation. He and his companions are relentlessly pursued by Croup and Vandemar, a pair of hired menacing but cheerful assassins, whose employer is shrouded in secrecy.
I loved the characters in this book, even the evil ones were written terrifically. Croup and Vandemar are two of the best characters filled with humor and remarkable color. Marquis de Carabas is larger-than-life and stands out against the drab backdrop of the darkness of London Below.
“He…” Richard began. “The marquis. Well, you know, to be honest, he seems a little bit dodgy to me.”
Door stopped. The steps dead-ended in a rough brick wall. “Mm,” she agreed. “He’s a little bit dodgy in the same way that rats are a little bit covered in fur.”
Through it all, Richard only wants to go home and yearns for things to be returned back to normal. In order to do so, he must complete a journey that forces him to learn, grow and change along the way through facing not only danger lurking around every corner but his own fears and darkness. But by doing so, is it even possible to return home experiencing something so profound, when you are no longer being the same person?
“Have you ever gotten everything you ever wanted? And then realized it wasn’t what you wanted at all?”
It is a compelling adventure about becoming our own heroes, finding new possibilities and holding on to hope in dark times. It is a creative, whimsical and magical and will definitely transport you from everyday life and open a door of great imagination.