I do not know where to begin talking about Neil Gaiman. He is one of my most favourite writers, like in the top 3 with Tolkein and Douglas Adams. Neverwhere is proof why.
Synopsis – Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere
Neil is pure genius. Back in school, in art class, we would draw with a pencil, outline it with a black sketchpen, and then colour it. Neil does the same. He outlines reality with fiction, with borders of a surreal world that comes to life as you move ahead looking at this piece of art.
This is a Neil Gaiman worship post, ok? I love how Neil Gaiman crafts the world in his books – it is always so real. Characters feel more real, in this case there’s Richard Mayhew, and Door, Angel Islington and of course, the men who made my skin crawl – Mr. Croup and Vandemar. I’m assuming every fan of Neil’s has read this book. If not, then this is not worth missing out on. It takes you through London (and Over and Under) in a way that you’re probably going to doubt if what the book says is real. (It could be)
It starts off with Richard’s life that is basically all of us. He’s relatable because at the end of the day all we want is a nice and comfortable job, a beautiful partner (although nothing like Richard’s choice, excuse me for judging Jess) and weekends out with friends. Richard has that. Until he sees Door, injured on the street, her clothes soiled and bloodied. It was then that I sank into the book so deep I did not realise I was in the train and missing my station if I did not get out in three seconds. The book has gives one needs to escape for a bit from the mundane-ness of their daily life – underdog hero, heroine with a steel spine, unexpected monsters, creepy villains, vampires (yay), and a gift – of looking at your own city – wherever you are – in a different light. I know the amount of manholes and underwater passageways that could be in Bombay so this book, it made me really, really happy just for giving me the gift of the same imagination as Neil’s.
There’s rats who are messengers, and so are pigeons (Maine Pyaar Kiya vibes, much?) Vampires who are shady AF, and I’m thoroughly impressed by how the magic works. There’s the ‘up’world and the ‘under’world and both are so intertwined with each other and yet separate.
This book as an out-and-out city read. Wherever you live in the world, reading this while taking a train, bus or any vehicle to work, or simply sitting at your desk and slacking away or taking a break from your daily mundane chores – Neverwhere is a quick escape into something that feels so real.
I have never been to London, and yet have been quite obsessed with the city since I was a child. Life has not taken me there yet, but the second it does, I want to look for London Under, just as I venture through the old streets of my city imagining if Marquis De Carabas awaits my arrival somewhere around the corner with a Door of my own.