Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman

So, another book about London, but very different to The London Pigeon Wars. I'd read Good Omens and heard good things about Neil Gaiman, so I thought I'd have a go at this, and it's pretty good. I suppose it fits in the 'fantasy' genre. Well, perhaps 'fairy tale' is better. The basic idea is that there's a parallel London of the dispossessed into which the main character, Richard Mayhew, accidentally falls after helping someone from London Below. It's a grimy, magical and mysterious world, full of characters like Hammersmith, Old Bailey and the Seven Sisters. Cheesy? Yes. Highly readable? Ditto.

It's not saccharine, though. As I said, it's very grimy, and there are some top-quality baddies. And those who aren't actively evil are generally out for themselves. What really makes it run, though, is the visual quality of the work. Gaiman was a comic writer (ahem, graphic novelist ;) and Neverwhere was originally conceived as a BBC series. Gaiman apparently kept himself sane while they hacked details out of his screenplay by saying that he'd keep it all in the book. I only saw one or two episodes, and remember them sketchily, but I think they had, um, Dr. Who production values. The old Dr. Who. As it is, I suspect the book is a better TV series than the TV version. Charming and fluid.

Posted 2006-09-09.