Richard Mayhew is an ordinary businessman living his ordinary life in London. His life completely changes when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding in the street, a girl that unfathomably his girlfriend and other people walking the streets don’t seem to notice. This one good deed shifts him from the reality he knows into the London Below, a warped, dark London inhabited by strange creatures and people who have fallen between the cracks.
Neverwhere was a very different type of fantasy book for me. It feels almost like Alice in Wonderland written through the lens of Terry Pratchett.
Excerpt from Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
She had chosen wrongly–the corridor ended in a blank wall. Normally that would hardly have given her pause, but she was so tired, so hungry, in so much pain . . .
She leaned against the wall, feeling the brick roughness against her face. She was gulping breath, hiccuping and sobbing. Her arm was cold, and her left hand was numb. She could go no further, and the world was beginning to feel very distant. She wanted to stop, to lie down, and to sleep for a hundred years.
‘Oh, bless my little black soul, Mister Vandemar, do you see what I see?’
The voice was soft, close: they must have been nearer to her than she had imagined.
‘I spy, with my little eye, something that’s going to be—’
‘Dead in a minute, Mister Croup,’ said the flat voice, from above her.
‘Our principal will be delighted.’
And the girl pulled whatever she could find deep inside her soul, from all the pain, and the hurt, and the fear. She was spent, burnt out, and utterly exhausted. She had nowhere to go, no power left, no time.
‘If it’s the last door I open,’ she prayed, silently, to the Temple, to the Arch.
‘Somewhere . . . anywhere . . . safe . . .’ and then she thought, wildly, ‘Somebody.’
And, as she began to pass out, she tried to open a door. As the darkness took her, she heard Mr Croup’s voice, as if from a long way away.
It said, ‘Bugger and blast.’