|Neverwhere is an adventure quest story by Neil Gaiman.
Richard Mayhew is a young business man in London. He has a small apartment, a job were he gets little recognition of his hard work and a high maintenance girlfriend named Jessica.
One night whilst he and Jessica are on the way to meet her boss, he sees a young homeless woman whose been stabbed lying in the street. Jessica tells Richard to leave her. But Richard can’t. The homeless woman insists on not going to a hospital or involving the authorities, so Richard, being a good samaritan, takes her home.
After Richard nurses the homeless woman, named Door, back to a reasonable state of health, she leaves. Then Richard bizarrely seems to slip through the cracks in London Above (his London) and falls into London Underside, also known as Neverwhere.
Neverwhere is filled with all sorts of creative ideas: a Royal Court in an underground train carriage, Rat Speakers, The Floating Market, velvet women whose kiss can take a person’s life, monks, an Angel, a Beast and even a labyrinth.
In this strange world, Richard decides to seek out the Marquis de Carabas. Richard having previously met the Marquis on Door’s behalf when she was at his house recovering from the stab wound. Richard is convinced that Door somehow caused him to lose his London Above life and he wants it back.
Richard finds the Marquis de Carabas with Door at the Floating Market. Door and the Marquis are auditioning for a body guard. Door is on a mission to find out who murdered her family and why. Richard asks Door for his life back and she explains that she doesn’t think it’s possible.
The Marquis and Door recruit Hunter to be Door’s bodyguard. Richard with nowhere else to go, goes along with Door, the Marquis and Hunter. The four of them set off on Door’s quest, but each has their own intentions and wants and some are not compatible with the quest.
The characters are likeable, complex and clever. The reader will enjoy getting to know them and find himself/herself caring a great deal for each of the characters. The plot is pleasant, paced perfectly and continually shifts and twists, keeping the reader hooked in.
The setting and action descriptions were tremendous, allowing the reader to picture the scenes and what was happening. However the character descriptions were repetitive, Gaiman using the exact same words to describe characters again and again. Looked like a copy/paste job. After a while these did become grating, so maybe skip reading character descriptions once each of the main characters has been introduced.
Overall Neverwhere is easy to read, a pleasurable read, fun and moderately entertaining. Well worth a read once, but it’s not the sort of book you’ll read again and again.