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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere (original 1996; edition 2005)

by Neil Gaiman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,83438196 (4.11)1 / 903
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Headline Review (2005), Paperback, 400 pages
Collections:library books read

Work details

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (1996)

  1. 258
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although Neverwhere and The Hitchhiker's Guide (THHG) are different genres (the first is urban fantasy, the second comic science-fiction) I felt there was a lot of similarity between the characters of Richard Mayhew (in Neverwhere) and Arthur Dent (in THHG). Both are a kind of everyman with whom the reader can identify and both embody a certain 'Britishness'. And they're both stonkingly good books by British authors.… (more)
  2. 140
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (elbakerone)
  3. 162
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  4. 101
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (elbakerone, ahstrick)
  5. 112
    Good Omens by Terry Pratchett (Pigletto)
  6. 101
    Kraken: An Anatomy by China Miéville (fugitive)
    fugitive: Another urban fantasy vision of London.
  7. 60
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (riverwillow)
    riverwillow: Both 'Neverwhere' and 'Rivers of London' (US title 'Midnight Riot') evoke a magical fairy tale London which sometimes feels more authentic then any real life guide to the city.
  8. 60
    The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (riverwillow)
  9. 50
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and Alice's Adventures Under Ground by Lewis Carroll (sturlington)
    sturlington: Neverwhere is a lot like a grown-up's Wonderland, and the two stories have a similar, surrealistic feel.
  10. 40
    Gloriana by Michael Moorcock (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Both fantasy titles explore the seedy underbelly of London, one in Tudor times, the other more recently in London Below.
  11. 117
    The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (derelicious)
  12. 51
    Something From The Nightside by Simon R. Green (Phantasma)
    Phantasma: The nightside novels are a little darker, but if you like the ideas presented in Neverwhere, you'll most likely enjoy the Nightside (actually, I prefer the Nightside and it's gritty dark humor).
  13. 74
    Storm Front by Jim Butcher (Polenth)
  14. 41
    The Good Fairies of New York by Martin Millar (themephi)
  15. 20
    Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch (Jannes)
    Jannes: For all your "supernatural secrets in the London underground"-needs.
  16. 20
    The High House (Aspect Fantasy) by James Stoddard (PitcherBooks)
    PitcherBooks: Both books have a wonderfully eerie claustrophobic mythic fantasy otherworld through which the hero/heroines must journey. And both are five star books. High House predates Neverwhere.
  17. 20
    The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia (elbakerone)
  18. 20
    Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky (Navarone)
  19. 20
    Gog by Andrew Sinclair (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Fantasy mixing late 20th century London with fairytale, myth and menace.
  20. 10
    King Rat by China Miéville (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For vanishing within the shadows of the city.

(see all 39 recommendations)


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English (362)  German (5)  Dutch (2)  Finnish (2)  French (2)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (379)
Showing 1-5 of 362 (next | show all)
This is the first Neil Gaiman book that I read and it was ok. It is urban fantasy, which was a new concept for me and took me a while to get into. There were also a lot of questions and not very many answers for a lot of the book. In the end, I think the story was good even though the characters could have been more well developed. ( )
  alb2219 | Sep 5, 2014 |
The story was unique, ingenious, & interesting. The magic is capricious, the characters memorable, & the plot had me biting my nails as it twisted about. The overall theme of the invisible people was haunting. There was a lot of understated British humor and it was very well read by its author.

I wanted to kick the main character pretty much all the way through the book, although the rest of the characters were great. I especially liked the pair of assassins. They were so perfectly evil yet had a wonderfully comic facade.

I didn't give this 5 stars for a couple of reasons. I'm not much of a fan of British humor, so while it was amusing once, I'll never want to read this again. There were a few logical issues in the story, too. Door & the Beast of London statuette - she let the Marquis take it, didn't seem to think it important, yet knew about it when going through the maze. The way Hunter & Door left Richard with the lamia & never warned him about her. The lamia's character & purpose seemed tacked on to add to the word count. Richard killing the beast so easily even with Hunter egging it on. None were huge, but they seemed to pile up at the end.

The last chapter was redundant. Richard was a complete nonentity in the real world - that was the whole point. Only someone naturally on the brink could have seen Door & would have so completely & easily disappeared with so little contact. He finally became someone & made true friends in the underside, so a paragraph or two of reflection would have served to make the point. That it took an entire chapter to bring him around made me want to kick him again, just when I was finally beginning to like him.

I was very pleased by Gaiman's reading. The British pronounce some things rather oddly (I'm an American. The way I pronounce words is correct. I don't care if they do lay first claim to the language. ;-) ), but that added to the feel of the story. He certainly put a lot of emotion into it & that did cause some problems trying to listen while using machinery. His voice would soften too much with some characters in some situations while others were very loud.

Overall, I'd give this a 3.5. I won't rush right out to find another novel by him, though. I've read one as a graphic novel & it was pretty good. This as an audio was far better. ( )
  jimmaclachlan | Aug 18, 2014 |
My first encounter with Neil Gaiman after hearing praise by many people for his story-telling. The praise is well-deserved.

Neverwhere follows the journey of Simon Mayhew, a fairly meek character who happens upon Door, the presumptively last survivor of her family who were all murdered. The journey leads him to "Under London," and a cast of characters that is never lacking for color.

I am no longer a real fan of science fiction or fantasy, but writing like Gaiman's could convince me to do some selective reading in the genres again. ( )
  jpporter | Aug 10, 2014 |
Set aside in favor of watching the BBC mini-series on Hulu. Gaiman's only a mediocre prose-man, so the nifty visuals, great British character actors, and Brian Eno score (!) make this a much better experience as a TV show. ( )
  CSRodgers | Jul 13, 2014 |
This is a very solid book. Although the back cover describes it as a modern day Alice in Wonderland, I'd posit it is much closer to the Wizard of Oz. But in this case this is a boy, who really isn't all that bright, or brave, or really helpful at all...but he is able at a few moments to make himself worthy of this quest.

This is definitely a worthy read! Recommend! ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 362 (next | show all)
Gaiman blends history and legend to fashion a traditional tale of good versus evil, replete with tarnished nobility, violence, wizardry, heroism, betrayal, monsters and even a fallen angel. The result is uneven. His conception of London Below is intriguing, but his characters are too obviously symbolic (Door, for example, possesses the ability to open anything). Also, the plot seems a patchwork quilt of stock fantasy images. Adapted from Gaiman's screenplay for a BBC series, this tale would work better with fewer words and more pictures.
added by Shortride | editPublishers Weekly (May 19, 1997)
The novel is consistently witty, suspenseful, and hair-raisingly imaginative in its contemporary transpositions of familiar folk and mythic materials (one can read Neverwhere as a postmodernist punk Faerie Queene). Readers who've enjoyed the fantasy work of Tim Powers and William Browning Spencer won't want to miss this one. And, yes, Virginia, there really are alligators in those sewers--and Gaiman makes you believe it.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews
The millions who know The Sandman, the spectacularly successful graphic novel series Gaiman writes, will have a jump start over other fantasy fans at conjuring the ambience of his London Below, but by no means should those others fail to make the setting's acquaintance. It is an Oz overrun by maniacs and monsters, and it becomes a Shangri-La for Richard. Excellent escapist fare.
added by Shortride | editBooklist, Ray Olson
Gaiman's gift for mixing the absurd with the frightful give this novel the feeling of a bedtime story with adult sophistication. Readers will find themselves as unable to escape this tale as the characters themselves.
added by Shortride | editLibrary Journal

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have never been to St. John's Wood. I dare not. I should be afraid of the innumerable night of fir trees, afraid to come upon a blood red cup and the beating of the wings of the Eagle.
--The Napoleon of Notting Hill, G. K. Chesterton
If ever though gavest hosen or shoon
Then every night and all
Sit thou down and put them on
And Christ receive thy soul

This aye night, this aye night
Every night and all
Fire and fleet and candlelight
And Christ receive thy soul

If ever thou gavest meat or drink
Then every night and all
The fire shall never make thee shrink
And Christ receive thy soul

--The Lyke Wake Dirge (traditional)
For Lenny Henry, friend and colleague, who made it happen all the way; and Merrilee Heifetz, friend and agent, who makes everything good.
First words
The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.
She had been running for four days now, a harum-scarum tumbling flight through passages and tunnels.
"It starts with doors."
"You've a good heart," she told him. "Sometimes that's enough to see you safe wherever you go." Then she shook her head. "But mostly, it's not."
There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; secnod, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelry; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.
He continued, slowly, by a process of osmosis and white knowledge (which is like white noise, only more useful)...
It was a good place, and a fine city, but there is a price to be paid for all good places, and a price that all good places have to pay.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is main work for the book Neverwhere. It should not be combined with the TV series on which it is based.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew and his adventures through London. At the start of the story, he is a young businessman, with a normal life. All this changes, however, when he stops to help a mysterious young girl who appears before him, bleeding and weakened, as he walks with his fiancée to dinner to meet her influential boss.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060557818, Paperback)

Neverwhere's protagonist, Richard Mayhew, learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished. He ceases to exist in the ordinary world of London Above, and joins a quest through the dark and dangerous London Below, a shadow city of lost and forgotten people, places, and times. His companions are Door, who is trying to find out who hired the assassins who murdered her family and why; the Marquis of Carabas, a trickster who trades services for very big favors; and Hunter, a mysterious lady who guards bodies and hunts only the biggest game. London Below is a wonderfully realized shadow world, and the story plunges through it like an express passing local stations, with plenty of action and a satisfying conclusion. The story is reminiscent of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but Neil Gaiman's humor is much darker and his images sometimes truly horrific. Puns and allusions to everything from Paradise Lost to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz abound, but you can enjoy the book without getting all of them. Gaiman is definitely not just for graphic-novel fans anymore. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:47 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

After he helps a stranger on a London sidewalk, Richard Mayhew discovers an alternate city beneath London, and must fight to survive if he is to return to the London he knew.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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