Sometimes a book comes along that you'd describe as literary genius and I felt this way with April's book of the month. Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere is a novel that has you gripped, mesmerised even from the first pages.
UNDER THE STREETS OF LONDON…
It's a place most people could never dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is a 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 strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere.
Something I'll explain first just incase you do decide to delve into this novel yourself. There are different versions of Neverwhere available, the tale was re written for American audiences, parts changed, moments missing. The version I bought and made a point of buying was the authors preferred text, Neil explains why himself inside the book.
We are first introduced to Richard in the prologue, currently living in Scotland, Mr Mayhew is leaving what he knows to move to the big city that is London. Things become interesting instantly when he drunkenly starts talking to an old lady outside of the pub and she seems to be talking in riddles about doors, long journeys and a different sort of London, all very intriguing.
Richard's story picks up three years later, seemingly living a good life, all be it a bit boring. He has a decent job and a stunning fiance, well that is until he happens across an injured girl on his way to a dinner date with his fiance and her boss.
A simple act of kindness, helping this unknown girl, leads him away from the path his life was taking into a different world to the one he's known. Makes you think twice about lending a hand to a complete stranger!
Now this is a hard book to review in the sense that I don't want to give away too much of the storyline as this would ruin the impact it could have on you as you read, as your imagination takes hold.
What you can know is that Richard is taken from London above to London below, he's fallen through the cracks, all because he couldn't leave someone in need of help alone. The story has many twists and turns and keeps you guessing throughout over which characters to like, to trust even.
Neil Gaiman manages to create a world so vivid you can't help but be drawn in. A modern day Alice in Wonderland for adults but oh so much darker. This novel is weird and wonderful, quirky and so very entertaining. Of course this isn't reality so it makes it even harder to guess what might happen as each chapter progresses.
Every character is described brilliantly and even the more "naughty" ones come across as utterly charming. I was more than captivated with two characters in particular, Mr Coup and Mr Vandermar, their interactions were both witty and vulgar all at the same time.
The language used has you thinking that it could be set in shall we say more historical times, it is a world of make believe that becomes rather real on the pages.
From rat speakers to "openers", Neverwhere is fantasy at it's absolute best. Compelling and magical, a novel that I wouldn't hesistate to recommend to others. I suppose my only complaint is that there wasn't a sequel written.