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Dark Cities Underground

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Lisa Goldstein has published eight novels, including the recent Walking the Labyrinth. Her novel The Red Magician won the American Book Award for Best Paperback. She has also published a short story collection, Travellers in Magic, and numerous short stories. Her novels and short stories have been finalists for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. "She has given us...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 7th 2000 by Tor Books (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 338)
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Melissa Proffitt
I don't think I was in the right mood to read this book. Objectively, I think it's very good, but it felt like Tim Powers lite--which is probably unfair to it. The blend of mythologies, the child stumbling on an archetypal space and witnessing the events of the Osiris myth playing out, give it a mystical feel that's well balanced by the semi-mundane war between the builders of the London Underground. It made me want to go there just to see how the reality matches up with the fiction.
V. Briceland
As a conspiracy theory, Lisa Goldstein's attempt to link Egyptian mythology to world subway systems, Victorian archaeology, children's fantasy literature, and thought control is a goldmine of weird tin-foil hat spooky good stuff. As a literary fantasy, however, Dark Cities Underground is a bit of a mess. Despite an engaging premise, her characters never really connect with each other or their audience; they already stuck in the very archetypal ruts they fear from their repeated visits to the und...more
Scottsdale Public Library
If you ever read the Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, or Peter Pan and searched for magical lands in wardrobes as a child, you will probably enjoy this book. In Dark Cities Underground, E. A. Jones wrote a series of books about a boy who travels into the realm of Neverwas. However, when Ruth Berry begins her research for a book about this famous author, she discovers that the adventures were based off stories her son, Jeremy, told her as a child -- Stories that were more than the imagi...more
Sarah
This was a great book: imaginative, well-written, and well-plotted. My only complaint is that the dialogue between characters doesn't ring quite true.
Nora Peevy
Amazing! Combines Egyptian myth of the Underworld with a secret underground subway system around the world. Children over time have slipped into this world and brought back their own stories, which then became The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, just to name a few classics. But the stories are all true! A wonderful concept. I have never read another book like it, but if I had to describe her story it would be like Neil Gaiman meets Tolkien meets Kelly Link. I think the Endictott Stud...more
Amanda
Really, really great ideas in this book; not great execution. I love the idea that many of the great children's stories, like "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan", were told to adults by children that had experienced these magical tales first hand. This basically is able to link several childhood (and adulthood) favorites to experiences had in the "Dark Cities Underground" or Neverwas.

I didn't like the adult protaganists at all, and unfortunately, most of the book is spent with the...more
Doug
Lisa Goldstein has long been on the list of writers I thought I should read something by sometime, and now she's on the list of writers I want to read everything by.

The set up for Dark Cities Underground reads like something from the manual of how to write a novel that appeals to me: Ruthie Berry is writing a book about the author of a beloved series of children's stories a la Barrie, Milne, Lewis, Grahame, et al. She manages to get an interview with the reclusive author's son, Jerry, the templa...more
Res
The one where young Jeremy Jones used to tell his mother stories of the world he found when he went through the door in the tree, and she wrote them up into bestselling books. Now he's grown up, and the world on the other side of the door is real and out to get him.

The first half of the book spends more time in the real world than in the fantastic one, and it's tell-y, boring, and deeply improbable. (The fantastic creature comes to the lawyer and says, "Do this for us and we'll bring your dead h...more
Mike Vasich
Really more of a 3.5 star. I loved the idea of mythic characters and themes replaying themselves in the 'underworld' of the subway system, and Egyptian myths were fun to read about, especially since they are often a tad neglected in pop literature for their more popular Greek and Norse cousins (yes, I'm complicit in this phenomenon).

The story worked best when it was focused on Jerry and his realizations of his past. Ruthie was an okay character, but I didn't feel she was as fleshed out as she c...more
JW
Mar 02, 2009 JW rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
A good read, not a barn burner, but enjoyable. A teeny bit Narnia-ish but not quite. More like Neverwhen in that regard. Modern fantasy, a bit like American Gods.

Okay, wait, Lisa Goldstein is not (as far as I can tell) a Gaiman ripoff. Don't think that.

It's a POV jumper, but there are two major protagonists. One is the son of a writer who uses his nightmares of adventures in an underhill type parallel realm to write books and get rich. He's angsty. The other is a single mother writer trying to g...more
Carol
Goldstein's books seem to be kind of hit or miss. This one's a little of both. It's an urban fantasy novel about Ruthie, a journalist, and Jerry, the son of a famous children's author, who discover that Neverwas, the world of the books, is actually real. It's the Nether Lands, an underground place of myth and archetypes which in the modern era has become connected to the world's subway systems. It's actually a pretty neat idea, and I particularly liked the way that Goldstein focuses on Egyptian...more
Hilary
Jerry Jones, hero of his mother's fantasy novels about a young lad's adventures in the mythical land of Neverwas, only wants to forget his unhappy past and live in anonymity. But when two other lost souls with unexpected ties to Neverwas invade his lonely existence, all three of them must confront their inner demons as well as the dangerous denizens of the world below.

This was a re-read. I remembered loving it years ago, and it did not disappoint. Its unexpected mixture of myth and modernity, an...more
Kirsten
When Jerry was a child, his mother wrote a bestselling series of books based on stories he told her. Now, as an adult, he is estranged from her, feeling she stole his childhood. Yet when strange people start popping up in his life, he begins to realize that the stories he told his mother may have been true...

This is an appealing, entertaining novel that, like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, makes use of the London Underground as a setting. Goldstein does some really unique things with folklore and myt...more
Terry
An excursion into Egyptian mythology with an author researching a book as an additional lure.
Henry
I really wanted to like this book. Urban fantasy featuring subterranean exploration of abandoned subway stations is my favorite subsubsubgenre ever! Sadly, something about it just felt very flat to me. The main characters seemed lacking in dimensionality in a way that would be fine if they were kids, but seems inexplicable in adults. The villains were almost comic in a kind of Dahl-esque way, but it felt like they were supposed to be taken seriously. The whole thing actually felt like YA that ha...more
Catherine
Lots of interesting ideas and very well-written. I was quite drawn into the story, which melds various works from British kid literature, elements of Egyptian mythology and steampunk. Where it fell flat for me was, like "The Alchemist's Door," the characters and the sheer number of ideas, which needed a much larger playing field than the length of this novel. Definitely worth reading if you're looking for a truly unusual fantasy.
Liz
this would be about ten times better as a kids or YA novel: the adventure/mystery storyline was sort of cool but the adult stuff like parenthood and romance rang false and so did all the adult characters. Gilly the little girl should have been the protagonist, basically. also the stuff about people becoming archetypes is really embarrassing, like an internet personality quiz, "which archetype are you?", oh geez.
Trevor Parker
Jul 06, 2007 Trevor Parker rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young adults
This is a fun story that links together all the fairy tale ideas of a wonderland. What if the reason there are all these stories of Never Never Land, Wonderland, Underhill, and Egyptian afterlife were based on truth: that there really is a magical world that children can visit, usually on accident.

The idea is neat, but the story takes a turn for the weird. The writing is a little dull and repetitive.
James Brigham
Reads like a series of notes for what could have been a much more interesting magical realism / urban fantasy tale. Characters are pretty forgettable and few speak with any sense of authenticity. It reads quickly but I don't think I'll be keeping this one on my shelf.
Chris
Apr 07, 2007 Chris marked it as to-read
Shelves: weird-fiction
I don't like her short work, and "The Tourists" was only okay, but this book is basically a clasic of the contemporary urban under-world genre. It pops up in connection with Mieville and Gaiman constantly, so I need to track it down.
Catfantastic
This was a deeply intriguing idea that felt like it deserved 400 pages, but got busted down to 250 at the last minute. The result is engaging but oddly superficial.
Catriona
This was a lot of fun!

I like the more recent Lisa Goldstein books a bit better, but that's a good thing. Things should improve with age. Or something.
Daelith
This was an interesting read thought it dragged a little in places for me. Nice twist on the Egyptian mythology.
Natalie
This one is interesting so far, and is a nice bookcase companion to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Michael
also reminded me of the movie "Neverwas," which I highly recommend.
Margaret
Neat idea, but the execution didn't really work for me.
Joe Duris
Joe Duris marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2014
Christina Thomas
Christina Thomas marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2014
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205075
Aka Isabel Glass.

Lisa Goldstein (b. November 21, 1953 in Los Angeles) is a Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award nominated fantasy and science fiction writer. Her 1982 novel The Red Magician won the American Book Award for best paperback novel, and was praised by Philip K. Dick shortly before his death. Goldstein writes science fiction and fantasy; her two novels Daughter of Exile and The Divided...more
More about Lisa Goldstein...
The Uncertain Places The Red Magician The Alchemist's Door Walking the Labryinth Strange Devices of the Sun And Moon

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