Happy October 31st, Readers! Whether to you that means Halloween, Reformation Day, or something else completely, I hope you have a fun day! The novel I’m reviewing today felt like a bit of a trick. Granted, I knew from the beginning that this genre is not one I typically read, but since the author came so highly recommended, I decided to give it a try anyways. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype for me.
About the Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Original Publication Date: 1996
Synopsis (From Goodreads): Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the 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 a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.
I knew from the beginning that I was going out on a limb by reading this book. The only other Gaiman book I’ve read is Coraline, which I read when I was about 10 and did not like at all. However, Gaiman is a very hyped author, and there are a lot of powerful quotes attributed to him. I had hoped that perhaps time would have adjusted my taste in such a way that I might enjoy his books now.
I was wrong.
There are honestly several positive aspects to Neverwhere. The world building is phenomenal; despite the fact that I borderline hated the world Gaiman created, I have to admit that the way he wrote about it and made it come alive is impressive. Rather disturbing, too, but admittedly impressive. Next, the characters are very well done. From Richard, the “everyman” character who stumbles into the fantastic world of London Below, to Hunter, his determined (and doomed) guide, and everyone in between, I can easily say that there are no other characters like these in any other work. Unfortunately, not all of the characters are as palatable as the two I just mentioned. I won’t get into details (message me if you really want to know), but there are other characters who I just couldn’t stomach in the end. They repulsed me, and at first I read on, because I recognized that as the villains they were supposed to be repulsive. Unfortunately, the level of gore and shocking immorality became gratuitous. It distracted from the story, and I don’t understand how anyone could read some of the sections that I skimmed without becoming nauseated.
For the most part, I am content to acknowledge that Neverwhere and likely all other books that Gaiman writes simply are not written for someone like me. The fantasy elements, the gore, and the direction of the story as a whole are simply not enjoyable for me. Gaiman is a master storyteller, and his writing is truly incredible – I just detest the things he chooses to write about. I cannot give this book a high rating, and I cannot recommend it if your taste is anything even remotely similar to mine. However, if gore and filth and creepiness are things that you like to read about, then this is exactly the book for you.
At least I tried something new, right? Even though I did not enjoy this book, I am happy that I read it so that I no longer question whether or not I should read any other Gaiman books. I now have a foundation for understanding when others talk about him and his books, and I know that they are not (at all) for me.
For the other half of today’s trick or treat feature, check out the other review I posted today!
Until the next chapter,