[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 08 December 2004]
Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, an ordinary man who one day finds himself wrapped up in events taking place in London Below, a sort of parallel-universe London populated with strange people and creatures, a place we know from myth.
Neverwhere is fast-paced and intensely visually rich–Gaiman’s background in graphic novels is evident in most scenes, providing them with a grungy viscerality. The concept of “Below” places, which apparently exist under most cities, is intriguing and Gaiman gets great mileage from the idea.
The novel suffers from a bit of an undeveloped plot, which acts mostly to propel Mayhew through various aspects of London Below and to introduce various strange aspects of that reality. But this is easy to overlook with the wonder Gaiman imposes as well as the strength of his ideas.
Interestingly, the two most notable villains in the book, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar–The Old Firm, dealers in death and torture, and generally quite unpleasant–are mirrored in Terry Pratchett’s The Truth, although Pratchett’s sociopathic duo dub themselves The New Firm. It’s always fun when collaborating authors riff off each other’s ideas and make them their own.
All in all, Neverwhere is definitely a place worth visiting.