Soon he finds himself living in a London most people would never have dreamed of: a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels. It is a world that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. And it is the home of Door, the girl whom Richard rescued, and whom, if he is ever to return home, he must now help in her mission to preserve this strange underworld kingdom from a mysterious figure determined to destroy it.
If Tim Burton rewrote Phantom of the Opera, if Jack Finney had a dark side, if you rolled up the best of Clive Barker, Peter Straub, and Caleb Carr into one, you still wouldn't have Neil Gaiman. In Neverwhere, he delivers one of the most absorbing reads to come along in years.
©1996, 1997 Neil Gaiman; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Gaiman's gift for mixing the absurd with the frightful gives this novel the feeling of a bedtime story with adult sophistication. Readers will find themselves as unable to escape this tale as the characters themselves." (Library Journal)
"[Gaiman] is, simply put, a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him in any media." (Stephen King)
Sometimes hearing the book read aloud kills the story and sometimes it merely aids in the telling of the story. In this edition, the telling makes the story. Having the author read his own work is a potentially iffy situation. But here, Gaiman imbues his characters with such richness that you can't imagine just reading the book. I am not a huge fan of the fantasy genre and classifying this book as fantasy is not quite fair. It is a great adventure that keeps you guessing right up until the end. I highly recommend it.
I normally do not write reviews, but I find this book is still rummaging around in my head long after the read.
On the surface, this is a book of nightmares and fairy tales; magic and monsters. On the surface, its an entertaining tale of an epic journey through the imagination.
Deeper though, Gainman brings an unlikely troupe of characters to life. There is an undercurrent, a story within a story if you will, where friendship blossoms, souls grow and mature in situations where both the very best of humanity and the worst of depravity are on display. It’s a story of how one man faces death time and again to gain everything he thought he ever wanted – and discovers it has no meaning when it cannot be shared with those he loves. In the end, Richard finds it is not what we have but who we have that makes our lives worth living.
After several previous experiences, I admit I was somewhat apprehensive about an author reading his own work. However, Gainman does an excellent job narrating this novel and bringing the story to life.
I've never written a review before, but I had to for this book. I wanted it to last because I was so wrapped up in Richard's journey, but I just couldn't stop listening. I was terribly sad when the book finally ended. Enjoy!
I had read both Anansi Boys and American Gods so I was looking forward to another slightly offbeat yet thoroughly entertaining book and I was rewarded beyond my expectations. Neil Gaiman is not only a wonderful writer, but a narrator to rival the best. His voicing made his characters come alive in my heart and mind. I was left wanting to see more of the wonderful world he created and to hear more of the adventures of poor Richard who was just discovering who he was.
A great story and an excellent reading by the author = well worth the time and money. Loved it. I listened to American Gods first, and while that was a very interesting listen, this is both that and an excellent story. His imagery - in both books, frankly - is easily superior to that of his contemporaries. You'll love it.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
The first thing I want to say is that the performance of this book by the author elevates the story to heights that could not have been achieved by reading the text alone. Neil Gaiman is a true actor, creating a world and its inhabitants so vividly, you feel you are walking the Underside with Richard, Door and all the rest. There were a couple of spots early on when the sound effects drowned out the voices, and I was worried that these production problems would kill the enjoyment of the story. It was a temporary problem however, and overall the performance score is an enthusiastic 5.
The story is a strange one - Mr. Gaiman's fans may be prepared for this, but this was my first of his titles. It's almost like a grungy underground Wizard of Oz meets Lord of the Rings. Because it is so grungy - really, the atmosphere and characters are very dark, dirty, dangerous and cynical - I found myself wishing for at least a touch of the magic of those other two classics (is there a Good Witch in the house?). Richard was a mostly engaging hero, but did seem kind of slow to catch on that it was not only useless, but probably not smart to argue with the Underside creatures about what their world is all about. (You're not in Kansas anymore). This stole away one star (honestly, more like just half a star) from the story quality, and may not even be a problem to many other readers. I did enjoy the journey - had some of it figured out in advance, not all of it. I'm encouraged to try other titles from this author, especially if he reads his own words.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Richard Mayhew has a life that most men would envy: He???s got a good job, a nice apartment in London, and he???s about to be married to a beautiful wealthy woman. But when he stops to help a girl (named Door) in the street, Richard soon finds that he???s slipped through the cracks into Neverwhere: a magical and frightening underground London that people like Richard never knew existed. How could he have known that his Random Act of Kindness would ruin everything? And, most importantly, how can he get his old life back?
Neil Gaiman rarely fails to amuse me with his creative concepts, quirky humor, and over-the-top villains, and Neverwhere, the novelization of his BBC television program of the same name, has all that. What it doesn???t have is a tight and gripping plot or exciting and well-developed heroes. Richard is an average guy who???s mostly along for the ride and Door and her monster-hunter bodyguard (named Hunter) aren???t too stimulating either. The best characters are the caricatured villains, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, ancient assassins who enjoy killing famous world leaders and biting the heads off kittens. This is totally and purposely overdone, and humorous because of it.
What makes Neverwhere worth reading is, without doubt, its wonderfully fantastical setting: an alternate London Underground. After visiting Neverwhere, you???ll never look at a London Tube Station map the same way again. Ever wonder how Earl???s Court Station got its name? Well, obviously, because a medieval lord holds court there. Who are the Blackfriars? And what about Islington at Angel Station? You???ll meet them all and discover what they???re up to in Neverwhere. I am not familiar with Underground London, but Neil Gaiman made me want to don a headlamp and begin exploring its closed off tunnels and tracks (???Mind the Gap!???). He could have done more with this setting, so I hope that someday he???ll write another novel in this world (a sequel has been rumored for years).
The other aspect of Neverwhere that I think is really well done is Richard???s confusion about what is real. Is he really in another world below London, or is he just going mad? It???s estimated that ??? to ?? of the homeless are schizophrenic and Gaiman captured their delusional behaviors so well, explaining them in the context of Neverwhere.
???Neil Himself??? narrated the audio version I listened to. He???s a good reader and his voice is always pleasant, but I think it???s a little too light and upbeat for some of the darker scenes in Neverwhere. Still, it???s nice to hear the author???s interpretation of his own work.
You can tell that the narrator/author has a true affinity for each of the characters he created in this luminous and dark story.....you feel each of the characters in every syllable he speaks for them. The writing is imaginative, clever, funny, suspenseful and in the end, you truly feel like you've been somewhere you never even imagined you could go....which to me, is the hallmark of a phenomenal book. Fabulous.
This was my first exposure to Gaiman, and I must say I can't remember the last book I enjoyed so much. The story is dark, highly imaginative, and thoroughly engrossing. The characters are well developed and really engaging. Furthermore, the best thing about this recording is Gaiman's own performance of his work. He has a real gift for bringing the story to life. In particular, his performances of Croup and Vandemar are excellent (and quite creepy)! A really topnotch rendition of a great book! I'm already on to my next Gaiman book.
I was fooled by the rave reviews and by how much I enjoyed reading Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I thought, "Maybe fantasy-type literature CAN be good--if you find a wonderful writer . . . and I think Gaiman might be wonderful." Silly me. After three or four agonizing hours, I admit I gave it up. Fantasy-type literature, I gather, is wonderful for some people, but for those of us who just like the real world, or the realistic world of classic fiction, man, we need to remember the many painful lessons we've learned about throwing away hard-won credits on fantastical worlds created just parrallel to or floating about and beyond terra firma. I can't explain even to myself why (my type?) of person can absolutely love The Graveyard Book, or say, Harry Potter, but find this adult fantasy reading to be boring beyond words. My criticism is highly subjective, but will perhaps save some other like-minded peruser from making the same mistake as I keep making. Never again: from now on it's history, nonfiction, and Great Authors writing Great earth-bound fictional literature.
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