London Down Under

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy) ★★★★¼

One day, Richard Mayhew is running around the streets of London Above, making his way to an exclusive restaurant with beautiful, demanding, career-oriented fiancée Jessica, who is about to have the most important moment in her life: introducing her fiancé to her powerful boss. They are running late and Jessica is about to have a fit, but just then, Richard stumbles upon a young, badly injured girl; he forsakes the fiancée—even as she threatens to break the engagement if he doesn’t leave the girl there and follow her at once—and brings the girl, Door, to his place, to give her a chance to recuperate and hide away from two sadistic killers who are on her trail. The next day, Door has gone with no explanation and seemingly for good, and Richard slowly comes to realize that he’s become virtually invisible. He’s late for work and can’t get a taxi to stop on the street, or get into the subway station turnstile, or get the attention of the attendant (what’s so strange about that? you may be saying to yourself), and when he finally gets to the office, discovers that his desk is being removed and that none of his coworkers can see him when he tries to ask for explanations. He thinks it’s all a bad joke and makes his way back to his apartment to take a bath and calm down, and is appalled when a real-estate agent lets in  a couple to show them the place. Incredulity turns to shock when the couple decides to take the flat, even as Richard is standing directly in front of them, dripping wet, stark naked and fumbling for a towel. He’s sure Door has something to do with these strange events and he next finds his way into London Below, a landscape peopled with strange inhabitants who abide by different rules of physics (among other things). He finds Door as she is holding auditions to find a bodyguard which she’ll need to accompany her on a perilous journey. Door’s family has recently been brutally murdered, and she’s promised the angel Islington (who resides, where else? at Islington tube station) to find him a key, in exchange for which he will reveal to her who killed her family.

A fantastic adventure filled with countless surprises and plot twists, with a cast of memorable and wonderfully deranged characters. This was a satisfying romp, made all the more delectable in the audiobook version narrated by the incomparable Neil Gaiman, he with a delectable English accent and a deep voice of velvet. Do I sound like a smitten fan? That would be because I am. Expect more Neil Gaiman book reviews in future posts.

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