Matthew Quann's Reviews > Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, favourites
Recommended to Matthew by: Lisa Bacque

What a wonderfully whimsical and well-written novel.

One of my projects for 2017 was to get through a stack of Neil Gaiman books, of which Neverwhere is my fourth and favourite. My first ever exposure to Gaiman was during my high school years as I established a bedroom basecamp to read the beautiful, hefty, and leather-bound Sandman absolute collections. I can remember the feeling of being captured by Morpheus and his family and never quite knowing what type of story Gaiman had in store. To this day, Gaiman's seminal series remains my all-time favourite comic and one of the most influential works in my life.

It comes as little surprise to me that this is my favourite Gaiman novel as it is the most like Sandman.

Neverwhere opens with the entirely average, good-natured Richard Mayhew opting to help a wounded homeless girl on the streets of London rather than go off on an important date with his fiancé. Richard's decision to help this girl, Door, leads him to an unimaginable realm beneath London, aptly called London Below. It is there that Richard meets vagabonds who speak-to and revere rats, an ageless hunter of mythical beasts, a charming con-man, and a whole host of other wonderful beings. From early on, London Below captured me as only the best fantasy worlds are able. There's grit, grime, humour, mystery, and scams lurking behind every corner.

Neverwhere is kept aloft on a sea of peculiar magic by Richard Mayhew's delightfully astounded and questioning behaviour. As the magic in the world becomes more and more prominent, the reader is able to accept this new reality because of Richard's incredulity throughout the earlier portions of the book. My fiancé recommended this one to me and we had a great chat about how Gaiman builds London Below so effectively because Richard is essentially the reader placed in this ludicrous situation. We also discussed how it is a little bit like adult Harry Potter!

I could go on at length about how Door is a terrific hero and that her quest to avenge her family makes her the driving force behind the novel's momentum. I could also talk about the Marquis de Carabas' endless charm and his presence in the book as a kind of dirty wizard. Oh, and it would be a shame to leave out Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, the book's murderous and hilarious antagonists. But here's the thing: all of those characters are better met through Gaiman's superb novel.

There are few books that make me feel panic or worry as I turn the last few pages, but Neverwhere had me on the edge of my seat as I was escorted out of London Below. This book is great, and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a compelling and entertaining adventure novel.
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Reading Progress

November 22, 2015 – Shelved
November 22, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
November 3, 2017 – Started Reading
November 5, 2017 –
page 140
30.43% "Delightful!"
November 10, 2017 –
page 375
81.52% "I've been devouring this one. What a treat!"
November 12, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
November 12, 2017 – Shelved as: favourites
November 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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message 1: by Kevin (last edited Nov 12, 2017 10:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kevin Ansbro Superb review, Matthew.
While I am a fan of Neil Gaiman's supernatural, and most excellent, imagination, I was put off reading any more of his books because The Ocean at the End of the Lane, though I enjoyed it, felt a bit 'young' for me.
I will, however, add this to my list because you have impeccable taste.


Cody Great review Matthew! I'm about to undertake this book and appreciated your insight into it.


message 3: by Diane (new)

Diane Wonderful review, Matthew!


Tammy Fabulous review! This is my favorite Gaiman also!!


Matthew Quann Kevin wrote: "Superb review, Matthew.
While I am a fan of Neil Gaiman's supernatural, and most excellent, imagination, I was put off reading any more of his books because The Ocean at the End of the Lane, though..."


Kevin, I think I agree with you a bit about The Ocean at the End of the Lane: it does pull from childhood so heavily that it seems younger. By contrast, Neverwhere is the move-out-on-your-own-and-explore-a-city era. If you decide to give this a go, it might work out for you!


Matthew Quann Thanks @Cody, I look forward to reading your thoughts on the book. Thanks @ Diana and glad to hear of another big fan @Tammy!


message 7: by Kevin (last edited Nov 13, 2017 02:48AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kevin Ansbro Matthew wrote: "Kevin wrote: "Superb review, Matthew.
While I am a fan of Neil Gaiman's supernatural, and most excellent, imagination, I was put off reading any more of his books because The Ocean at the End of th..."


Thanks, Matthew.
It's on my 'probable', rather than 'possible', list!
: )


message 8: by Nat (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nat K Magical review Matthew


message 9: by Laysee (new)

Laysee I read this enticing review twice, Matthew. Did you sprinkle some Gaiman magical gold dust on it? I’ve enjoyed Gaiman’s imaginative stories and this one sounds super tempting.


Matthew Quann Laysee wrote: "I read this enticing review twice, Matthew. Did you sprinkle some Gaiman magical gold dust on it? I’ve enjoyed Gaiman’s imaginative stories and this one sounds super tempting."

Well, it is as high a compliment as any to read that anyone has read my review more than once! Thanks Laysee! If you've liked any of Gaiman's output, you should enjoy this.


message 11: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Sumi Great review, Matthew, and thanks for the recommendation! I usually don’t read in this genre, but have been hearing about Gaiman for years (I’ve seen movie adaptations, of course) and it’s time I finally read him!


Matthew Quann Hey Glenn, thanks for the comment! I know this isn’t your typical thing, but there’s enough outside the fantastical to warrant a recommendation. I’d suggest starting here with Gaiman!


(^_^)Savanna (^_^)Kirwin(^_^) your welcome ik what youh are saying


Cecily Very persuasive.


PorshaJo Great review Matthew! It makes me want to go back and re-read this wonderful book. Nice to see your glowing review. And the BBC production of this book is not bad either.


Matthew Quann PorshaJo wrote: "Great review Matthew! It makes me want to go back and re-read this wonderful book. Nice to see your glowing review. And the BBC production of this book is not bad either."

I've heard great things about the BBC production! I'll have to check it out with my fiancé!

Cecily wrote: "Very persuasive."

Thanks Cecily! I hope you'll give it a shot in due time.


message 17: by Leila (new) - added it

Leila This is a new one on me Matthew though I do have most of Neil's books and like them a lot on the whole. An absolutely superb review for a book that sent me straight to Amazon to buy it. Thank you.


Matthew Quann Leila wrote: "This is a new one on me Matthew though I do have most of Neil's books and like them a lot on the whole. An absolutely superb review for a book that sent me straight to Amazon to buy it. Thank you."

Thanks, Leila! I hope you enjoy this one!


Cecily Matthew wrote: "Thanks Cecily! I hope you'll give it a shot in due time."

I did. Eventually. And I'm glad I did. It was good fun, and I loved the world-building and characters. (The only weakness was that I found the plot a little too predictable.)


Matthew Quann Cecily wrote: "Matthew wrote: "Thanks Cecily! I hope you'll give it a shot in due time."

I did. Eventually. And I'm glad I did. It was good fun, and I loved the world-building and characters. (The only weakness ..."


Glad you ended up having some fun with this one! I'd agree that the plot is very predictable, but Gaiman plays the genre hits well.


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