Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman [Review]

This review was first posted on February 24th 2008. But that was far too long between readings!  So, when R.I.P. VI came around it was the perfect excuse to pull my copy off the shelf, and slip into London Below once again…


Under the streets of London there’s a world most people could never even dream of – a city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, and pale girls in black velvet. Richard Mayhew is a young businessman who is about to find out more than he bargained for about this other London.

A single act of kindness catapults him out of his safe and predictable life and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and yet utterly bizarre. There’s a girl named Door, an Angel called Islington, an Earl who holds Court on the carriage of a Tube train, a Beast in a labyrinth, and dangers and delights beyond imagining…

And Richard, who only wants to go home, is to find a strange destiny waiting for him below the streets of his native city.

Originally devised as fantasy television series by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry, that first aired on BBC2 in 1996, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is set, the London we know (known as ‘London Above’) and a magical realm, called ‘London Below’ hidden deep beneath the busy city streets.

Springing from a conversation between British TV comedian, Lenny Henry and Gaiman, who was wary to commit, fearing Henry’s idea of tribes of homeless people, living in London, would appear “cool” and cause young people to be tempted to emulate the characters, but agreed to expand it from there, eventually penning the series and this novel.

I watched the series at the time, and enjoyed it immensely, so buying the book at the time was an obvious choice. Since then I have read the book, owned it, given it away, bought it again, read it again many many times. I’m not a big re-reader of books, but this is one I am always happy to return to.

Richard had noticed that events were cowards: they didn’t occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once.

Richard Mayhew, is seriously out of his depth, a simple act of kindness, has thrown him into a nightmare world he has no control over, all he wants to do is go home, back to his normal very ordinary life.

“Who do you think we are? The Wizard of Oz? Of course we can’t take you back home!”

However, life, is not going to be that kind (it would be a short book if it was!), but in time, Richard, discovers something about himself, surprisingly that he can be, brave, bright, and strong when it’s required. Even if he is still prone to stumbling his way though life.

Will Richard, survive the adventure? Will he get the opportunity to return to his old life? Will he want to?

Stuffed full of quirky likable characters, and an ever present danger, life is never boring in London Below!

Well, the above was what I had to say back in 2008, the version I read back then was an American edition I got off Bookmooch. This time around, it was the author’s preferred edition, which I bought back in April to read for Once Upon a Time (but didn’t have time to read).

What can I say. Reading Neverwhere again, has only cemented its place as my favourite book. I love the characters & the world of London Below, and it’s a delight to spend time there, with them.

Buy: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman from The Book Depository.



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13 Comments So Far - I'd Love For You To Leave One Too!

  1. Kailana says:

    I really enjoyed this book, too. I could probably stand to reread it!

  2. Anna says:

    I also love Neverwhere! I was thinking about rereading it again sometime soon, actually. Great review. :)

  3. I’ve read The Graveyard Book recently and someone commented on my review that I’d appreciate this Neverwhere more if I knew something of the streets of London. Do you agree?

    • Darren says:

      It certainly helps to have a passing knowledge of the London Tube map, but to be honest, it’s enjoyable enough without it! (and the references are pretty well known places anyway.)

  4. Vasilly says:

    I recently checked this book out from the library. I haven’t read it before but after reading your great review, I know I need to read Neverwhere now! :-)

  5. Great review, Darren. I read this earlier this year but didn’t write a review yet. I do love Gaiman. I think the next one I’m going to read is American Gods.

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