Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Challenge #42 ~ “A top 100 fantasy novel.”

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

This was one of the challenges I thought I would find the most difficult this year – just finding one from the 100 mystery novels that I hadn’t read but was interested in was hard enough, let alone fantasy. I don’t know why I always think I’m not really a fantasy person, because it’s always fantasy novels that surprise me the most. Take The Darkest Part of the Forest or the Iron Fey series, for example! Neverwhere too was a truly phenomenal read, and cemented my belief in Gaiman’s talent and the enjoyment in his works.

I absolutely love books that brim with fantastic imagination, and this one teems it by the barrel. Gaiman’s idea of a world under London is not necessarily novel or special, but his individual take is clever in so many ways and extremely well-handled. From meddlesome shepherds that inhabit Shepherd’s Bush to a court operating from Earl’s Court tube station, London and its quirky names come to life in the story, adding humour and character. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the same plot handled by another author would have provided a truly different (and probably less quirky) read.

Gaiman managed his characters well, making each one unique and memorable, with some realistic (if not, at times, predictable) character developments. The down-to-Earth and relatable nature of the protagonist (Richard) does make it difficult to really engage with the novel in the initial chapters, but they are well-worth overcoming, and Gaiman employs a few good plot points to get the reader through, setting them up for a tremendous journey. Beautifully-written and a fantastically humorous read, Neverwhere is a justified member of the top 100 fantasy books (and a new member to my favourite books collection!)

Recommended for fans of:

  • The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
  • The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner
  • These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
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