This story takes place in the London underworld-- a world unseen by those above; a sort of alternate dimension. Richard Mayhew is going about his busiThis story takes place in the London underworld-- a world unseen by those above; a sort of alternate dimension. Richard Mayhew is going about his business as an ordinary (perhaps extraordinarily ordinary) Londoner. About three years after moving to London from Scotland, he is working an ordinary job, and has somehow found himself engaged to Jessica, a beautiful if temperamentally questionable gallery worker. But on the night of an important dinner with Jessica's boss, Richard finds an injured girl on the street with the unusual name of Door. His encounter with Door spoils Jessica's plans with her boss, and Richard's life is totally upended. The next thing he knows, he is in London Below, where everything is very familiar and yet completely different from anything he's ever known.
London Below is a whole world that exists down in the underground tunnels and subway platforms and sewers. It's a world where rats are respected members of society with translators that speak for them, where floating markets pop up like raves. A dangerous place where the dead may walk again and the living are just grateful to be living another day.
Door has a special gift of being able to see and open hidden doors to other places, and she just lost her entire family in the most brutal of fashions. Now the same men who killed her family are after her, and Richard has become the most unlikely of champions.
I was first introduced to the author when a girlfriend of a co-worker gave me American Gods to read. I was just getting back into reading after a hiatus from fiction, and I had never read fantasy before. I just could not open my mind enough to embrace his novel, and quickly gave up on it, shaking my head and asking, "What the heck was that??"
However my mind is a little more open these days to fantasy and I decided to give the author another try. I'll admit that I was nervous about it.
Sometimes fantasy can ask too much of me. I try to keep an open mind, but at times fantasy will completely defy physical laws. And I dislike lazy writing where absolutely anything can happen to propel a storyline forward. For instance, you may have a character in an impossible situation, so the writer has a bush turn into a horse so the character can ride off to safety, or something equally ridiculous. That sort of thing frustrates me, as ANYONE can do ANYTHING when there are no rules!
In Neverwhere, there is a logic to the insanity. As bizarre as the story could get and as outlandish as the characters were (often there was an early 1900s London feel to the world below), it was almost...believable.
My final word: I can see what all of the hullabaloo is about surrounding this author. The London underground was the perfect setting for one of his stories. It's rich and loamy, dank and dreary. You can almost smell the mildew and mold, screwing up your eyes to see your way in the dark. His writing is divine (and divining), his ability to draw characters so fully that I can almost see them, smell their perfume, hear the rustle of their heavy garb, and I can feel the cold, damp concrete wall under my hand as I make my way through the tunnels as I follow them blindly. And I will follow them blindly. I'll follow them anywhere in the Neverwhere....more
Ove (pronounced ooh-vey, to rhyme with you-may) is a grumpy and cantankerous old guy who has a touch of OCD. Everything must be handled in a particulaOve (pronounced ooh-vey, to rhyme with you-may) is a grumpy and cantankerous old guy who has a touch of OCD. Everything must be handled in a particular way, and as part of his routine. He can be gruff with people and keeps to himself.
Then a family moves into the neighborhood, and they seem to be able to overlook his crotchety demeanor. They insert themselves into Ove's life, perhaps against his will. Before he knows it, this family has turned his life upside-down, and Ove is doing things he probably never would have done before.
This is a charming story, reminiscent of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. It disproves the old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Ove is an old dog who definitely learns some new tricks. The author deftly writes the character to make him quite likable by the end of the story, and you can't help but like the family that infiltrates his life.