Friday, April 11, 2008

A Magical Journey.....


One of the best reasons for joining a challenge is to find a wonderful book. A book that moves you, touches you, makes you laugh and cry. A book that, at the end of the day, will leave you feeling better than before you read it. And that's exactly what happened when I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (370 pgs, Harper Perennial) for Carl's Once Upon a Time Challenge. Because of the different "Quests", I listed Neverwhere as just a fantasy book of any sub-genre. Truthfully, it IS hard to categorize. Urban fantasy is how it's listed. But this book is way more than "just" a fantasy novel.

Richard Mayhew was a young man in London. He had a rather ordinary life.....a job in securities, a fiancee that dragged him to lots of galleries, a rather plain little flat. Everything was remarkably ordinary. Until the night he found the girl lying on a sidewalk....bleeding. He was supposed to be having dinner with his fiance's boss, but the good Samaritan in him took over. He couldn't just leave this young girl. So against Jessica's wishes, he picked up the girl and took her home with him. And so began his troubles.....

The girl's name was Door, and she was an "Opener". She could open anything that was locked, open doors to anywhere, and travel to different places through them. And she was being hunted by a pair of assassins. Door's family was murdered and she was on the run, trying to not only stay alive, but find out why her family was killed. But because Richard helped her, his life was turned upside-down. He ceased to exist in London. People looked by him and didn't see him. His job was gone, his apartment rented to other people. He had become part of London Below....the part of London where people who have "fallen through the cracks" go. A magical place that is filled with murderers, beasts, hunters, and angels. A place where your friend can be your enemy and a favor owed is priceless. A place where people talk to rats and the darkness is deadly. And Richard has to navigate through the Underground to help Door in the hopes that he can get his old life back.

What more can I say than I loved this book!! Neil Gaiman is truly a master at what he does. And that is weaving a story. I don't seem to be able to post about him without gushing! Each page I read brought me one step closer to this magical world. The cast of characters was long, but truly unique. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar were a couple of the scariest assassins ever to grace the pages of any novel. The Marquis de Carabas was arrogant and cunning....a shyster that traded favors, mostly to his own benefit. He was an enigma through most of the story and it was hard to see which team he was really playing for. The Angel Islington was beautiful and scary. And Richard. Richard grew up in this story and learned that he could do mighty things....for an ordinary kind of guy.

If you haven't read Neverwhere, I highly recommend it. It's funny, scary, fantastical and just an all-around exceptional read! It will probably go down as one of my favorite books!! And as I've stated in many posts, Neil Gaiman has certainly become one of my favorite authors!! 5/5

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22 comments:

Andi said...

I really need to read this book. It's been on my TBR for YEARS. Like 10. lol I'm glad you loved it so!

Debi said...

I have absolutely NO excuse for not having read this yet. None. I really, really, really must get to it.

Carrie K. said...

I'll definitely be reading this, too. I'm listening to the audiobook of Gaiman's Fragile Things - which he reads himself - and it's wondeful. I couldn't finish American Gods, but he seems to be an author who writes a completely different book every time. I can't wait to dip into this one.

Joy said...

I'm not a Gaiman fan, but boy you make this sound good. I actually have an inkling of desire. :)

raidergirl3 said...

I agree. This book really grabbed my imagination as well and I want ot go to London and ride the Tube. Stardust didn't appeal to me as much, but I loved this book. It was one of my favorite of last year.

Nymeth said...

I can't say I'm surprised that you loved this one, but it makes me happy all the same :D

Chris said...

Love this one so much! You should check out the audio book too, it's really cool. One of my favorite scenes in this one was when you meet Islington for the first time with the candles and all...I remember reading that and thinking "how the hell does someone write something like this?" He's just a master! There's a Neverwhere BBC series too you know!

Darla D said...

I just finished Anansi Boys and really loved it. Neverwhere has been on my tbr list for ages. I'll have to bump it up some - and possibly listen to it as Chris recommends! Thanks for the review! :-)

Kim L said...

Yes I really want to read this one, I hope I have some time soon! Thanks for the great review.

Melody said...

I'm not surprised that you enjoyed this book, after all it's a Gaiman's book. ;) Great review, Stephanie!

Carl V. said...

A common theme...at least it seems to be...among big time Neil Gaiman fans is whether Stardust or Neverwhere is their favorite. Often I think it comes down to which they read first. For me it was Neverwhere. I discovered Neil through Sandman and I can still remember the day over a decade ago that I walked into my Tulsa, OK Borders and saw this glorious book cover staring at me.

During college and my earlier adult years I had sort of gotten away from the me I was as far as regular reading. Neverwhere literally changed my life, reconnecting me to the glory of reading that I recalled from my youth and pushing me into discovering a whole new world of art and literature. Needless to say it is one of my favorite novels of all time. That coupled with the fact that I used to daydream alot as a child about discovering some hole in the ground or portal to another world. Neverwhere felt like Neil had reached inside my head and took that seed and grew this amazing story for me. I am so glad you connected with it in such an amazing way as well.

I was thrilled when the author's preferred audio edition came out a few months back. Having Neil read this story to me is an enchanting experience.

I am a fan of the old Dr. Who's of yesteryear with their poor production values. Not many are. I say this to mention that years back, before the novel (in fact it was the reason Neil made Neverwhere a novel) he and others made a BBC serial of this screenplay. It has poor production values and Neil taking the screenplay and expanding it into a novel made it much better, but I still really love watching this. I think the actors who play Richard and Door are terrific. If you have an open mind about odd things like this you might want to check it out.

Again I am so glad you read this and loved it. I have given Neverwhere to so many people over the years. It is my favorite gift to give and it is a thrill to watch others discover it. Thanks for sharing your gushing experience with us. I have a BIG smile on my face.

Rhinoa said...

I really enjoyed this last year and am glad you did to. I hope to read Un-Lun-Dun by China Mieville at some point which has similarities in plot and I think China spent some time talking to Neil when writing it.

Ladytink_534 said...

I started to read this once after I finished American Gods because I really liked it and I couldn't get too far into Neverwhere once I read about them eating cats. Blech!

Carl V. said...

Don't forget to link your reviews on the review site! ;)

Jaimie said...

I'm so gald you liked this book. I started it but had to put it down for some reason but when I get back to it will be reading from the beginning. It was that good!

J Scott Savage said...

Don't know how I missed this, but I have ordered it and am waiting anxiously. I loved the interview they did with him on the special features of the Stardust DVD. He is really funny.

naida said...

I need to read this book, great review!
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Megan said...

This was the first Gaiman book I ever read (almost 10 years ago I think), and was definitely a good introduction to his work.

I saw the tv production years after reading it. You might want to check that out. It was fun, though as Carl mentions, it definitely doesn't have the highest production values.

Lisa said...

I've heard soooo much about this book. I just recently read my first book by Gaiman -- Coraline. I absolutely loved it. It was everything you describe this book as being. If the rest of his books are like Coraline, I have a lot of great reading ahead of me.

Trish said...

I *almost* picked this one up at the bookstore the other day and after reading your review I'm kicking myself a little for not getting it. I'll have to go see if it's still there (it was a used bookstore).

qugrainne said...

This is the book that hooked me with Neil Gaiman's writing. It was the perfect fantasy for me - a real place, but not quite a real place. Great, albeit gushing, review. I am gushing right along with you and agreeing 100%!

A Library Girl said...

One of the things I really enjoy in this book is the place names and what Gaiman makes out of them.

If you ever get a chance to hear him read his own work, I'd recommend that. I attended a reading he did of Anansi Boys and it was a wonderful experience (not to mention, Anansi Boys is wonderful, better, in my opinion, than American Gods)