Rereading: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman

Cover illustration by Robert McGinnis.

When “Neverwhere” was first published by BBC Books in 1996, Neil was kind enough to send me a signed copy.

Interesting to see his inscription included “Mind the Gap!” which almost made it onto the cover of the new paperback that I helped design. I read it at the time, and enjoyed it. I also got the DVD of the TV series and enjoyed that, though it was clearly a low-budget production, but well done.

In 2005 I lettered a comics adaptation written by Mike Carey with Neil’s approval. So, I’ve had lots of contact with this story, and didn’t plan to read it again until I opened my copy of the new paperback and saw Neil describe it as his preferred text, and a version not seen before. Good selling point, that, I now wanted to read it again!

Richard Mayhew is bumbling through a London life he doesn’t seem much good at or very interested in: a job in a cubicle, a girlfriend who abuses him emotionally, work friends who hardly know him. When an injured girl, Door, falls at his feet out of nowhere, Richard’s good heart tells him he must help her, and he does, even though it lands him in a world of trouble below London, one that most of us know nothing about. Door’s family has been murdered, and she’s likely to be next. Richard Mayhew is, at first, merely an obigation to her: she lets him tag along when it becomes clear to him he can never return to his old life. Richard, and we, are introduced to a rich and dangerous world where all the London Underground (subway) stations are real things of some sort rather than merely brick and mortar. Door gathers friends and allies around her, but danger is always nearby, and eventually Mayhew finds himself taking an important part in Door’s protection and survival, to the surprise of everyone.

I’ve just scratched the surface (no pun intended) of this highly imaginative dark fantasy. I had a great time rereading this version. I couldn’t say how it differs from the first one, but it certainly comes across here as a mature work in every way.

Highly recommended.

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