Reviews for Neverwhere


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 May 1997
Londoner Richard Mayhew and his ice-princess fiancee are hurrying to dinner with her media-tycoon boss when Richard spies a young woman lying dirty and bleeding in the street. Uncharacteristically not thinking twice, he picks the apparent beggar up and, leaving his intended on the spot, carries her to his apartment to recuperate. Next morning, two eerie men are at Richard's door. They are looking for the young woman, who is in the bathroom when they arrive. Over Richard's protests, they barge in and search the place, but the girl is nowhere to be found. After they leave, however, she shows up at Richard's elbow in the kitchen. Strange. But humdrum compared to the quest that Door (the young woman) enlists Richard to undertake with her in London Below, a subterranean city made up of long-forgotten parts of historic London and populated by people who "fell through the cracks," as Richard discovers he has shortly after Door first leaves him, and friends fail to recognize him, while strangers don't even seem to see him. The millions who know The Sandman, the spectacularly successful graphic novel series Gaiman writes, will have a jump start over other fantasy fans at conjuring the ambience of his London Below, but by no means should those others fail to make the setting's acquaintance. It is an Oz overrun by maniacs and monsters, and it becomes a Shangri-La for Richard. Excellent escapist fare. ((Reviewed May 15, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1997 June
~ Some of the best pure storytelling around these days is being produced in the critically suspect genre of fantasy, and this exuberantly inventive first full-length novel, by the co-creator of the graphic series The Sandman (1996), is a state-of-the-art example. The protagonist, determinedly unheroic Richard Mayhew, is a young man up from the provinces and living in London, where he has found both job success and a lissome fianc e, Jessica. Soon, however, Richard meets a mysterious old woman who prophesies he'll embark on an adventure that ``starts with doors.'' Sure enough, his fate becomes entwined with that of a beautiful waiflike girl who calls herself Door, and who is in flight from a pair of ageless hired assassins and in pursuit of the reason behind the murder of her family. Suddenly wrenched away from his quotidian life (people can no longer see or hear him), Richard follows Door underground to an alternative ``London Below,'' where ``people who have fallen through the cracks'' live in a rigidly stratified mock-feudal society that parallels that of London Above. A parade of instructors and guides brings Richard and Door ever closer to understanding why her father was marked for death by the rulers of London Below, and prepares Richard to do battle with the (wonderfully loathsome) Great Beast of London. Altogether, Gaiman's story ending is both a terrific surprise and a perfectly logical culmination of Richard's journey into the darkest recesses of his civilization and himself. The novel is consistently witty, suspenseful, and hair-raisingly imaginative in its contemporary transpositions of familiar folk and mythic materials (one can read Neverwhere as a postmodernist punk Faerie Queene). Readers who've enjoyed the fantasy work of Tim Powers and William Browning Spencer won't want to miss this one. And, yes, Virginia, there really are alligators in those sewers--and Gaiman makes you believe it. (First printing of 125,000) # Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1997 June
In his first full-length novel, Gaiman, the comic-book mastermind, brings his talents to the black-and-white world of books, eschewing the darkly elegant illustrations that are a trademark of his comics. However, this journey to yet another fantastical realm is full of haunting images just the same. The story revolves around Richard Mayhew, a bumbling young businessman, who is about to discover a new side of London after helping a wounded girl named Door. He is trapped in an alternate dimension, known as London Below, or the Underground. Once he steps into it, he finds that his normal life no longer exists. The only chance of getting his old life back is to accompany Door on a dangerous mission across the Underground. Like adults stumbling through the pages of a bizarre children's story, Gaiman's likable protagonists fight off the sinister villains of this nebulous underworld. Shards of the concrete world continually pierce the surreal surroundings, as Gaiman weaves a link between the two dimensions of London. Gaiman's gift for mixing the absurd with the frightful give 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. Highly recommended.?Erin Cassin, formerly with "Library Journal" Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 May #3
London businessman Richard Mayhew sees an injured, homeless girl on the street one evening and is compelled to bring her back to his apartment. In this debut novel by Gaiman, author of the wildly successful graphic novel series The Sandman, the girl, whose name is Door, ushers Richard into a strange new world. She communicates with rats and pigeons and is amazed to find herself in what she calls "London Above." When she leaves, however, Richard's ordinary life vanishes with her. He discovers that he is virtually invisible on the street, in his office, even to his fiancée. Believing that only Door can help him, he finds his way to London Below, a menacing, magical netherworld located in the sewers, tunnels and abandoned Underground stations. Inhabited "by the people who fell through the cracks in the world," London Below is equal parts fantasy, nightmare and ragged medieval court life. There, Mayhew joins Door, a female warrior called Hunter and an opportunistic marquis on a quest to discover why Door's family was executed. Villains abound, including a pair of courteous but malevolent assassins. Gaiman blends history and legend to fashion a traditional tale of good versus evil, replete with tarnished nobility, violence, wizardry, heroism, betrayal, monsters and even a fallen angel. The result is uneven. His conception of London Below is intriguing, but his characters are too obviously symbolic (Door, for example, possesses the ability to open anything). Also, the plot seems a patchwork quilt of stock fantasy images. Adapted from Gaiman's screenplay for a BBC series, this tale would work better with fewer words and more pictures. 125,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (July) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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