Richard Mayhew’s life in London is unremarkable, but definitely his. He’s got a good job, a fiancee, and no worries about the future, at least not until a girl appears in front of him in the street and his Good Samaritan side takes over. The Lady Door of the House of Arch, as she introduces herself, is on the run through the magical world of London Below, attempting to get away from Messrs. Croup and Vandemaar, hired assassins that have killed her family.

“Then he mentally underlined the last sentence three times, rewrote it in huge letters and red ink, and circled it before putting a number of exclamation marks next to it in his mental margin.”

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As soon as Richard agrees to help her, however, his life takes a strange turn. It turns out that London Below is where people go when they’re forgotten in London Above, and Richard is forced into a quest that twines with Door’s attempt to find the killers of her family as he tries desperately to get back Above where he thinks he belongs.

Neil Gaiman has said himself that Neverwhere and American Gods are two sides of the same coin—Neverwhere the British version while Gods the American.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Neil Gaiman is one of the most “thinky” authors of fantasy out there, and Neverwhere doesn’t disappoint. It’s not quite as slapstick as Good Omens, but it’s more brainy than Stardust. Just beware that if you’re not at least a little bit of an Anglophile, some references may go directly over your head.

Rating (5 stars)

I love me some Gaiman. His characters are well rounded, individual personalities that connect and clash the way real humans do, although they’re often real humans thrown into completely unreal situations.

In Neverwhere, Richard Mayhew, hapless clerk, is the perfect everyman foil to use to bring readers into the world of London Underground. Because really, although there’s a quest, and a hero, and more than a few villains (one of which, I swear I didn’t see coming at all) a lot of the book is just a good expedition through a made-up world that’s incredibly detailed and specific.

Really, there could be a London Underground theme park somewhere just from the descriptions in the book.

The ladies aren’t wimpy, the boys throw shoes at rats, and there’s more wordplay than you could shake a stick at (just ask the Lady Door, Lord Portico’s oldest daughter)