Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere

Author: Mike Carey
Artist: Glenn Fabry
Titan Books
RRP: 10.99, US $19.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 8457 6353 4
ISBN-10: 1 8457 6353 X
Available 23 March 2007

There are two Londons. London Above is our 'normal' world, and London Below, deep underground, is where the Black Friars and the Hammer Smith live alongside the rat-speakers, and the Earl's Court forever travels the Circle line... Now, Richard Mayhew's normal life will disappear as he's plunged into London Below, thanks to a young streetkid called Door, herself on the run from a deadly plot. Can they survive? Not if Richard's nightmares about crossing Night's Bridge come true...

Richard Mayhew is an ordinary young man, employed at an ordinary kind of job having a perfectly ordinary day. Until he does one extraordinary thing. He stops to aid a mysterious young woman lying injured on a London street. Because of that single act, his life will never be ordinary again.

The young woman, known as Door, comes from London Below, a fantastic and dangerous metropolis lying beneath London's streets, unnoticed by the ordinary city above. When she draws Richard into this bizarre, dark wonderland, he discovers that no one in London Above remembers him. It's as if he never existed.

Now Mayhew must stay one step ahead of the savage hit men Croup and Vandemar, cross the dreaded Night's Bridge, survive the Beast of London - all to get he is old life back. The key is an angel known as Islington, and the secret he has kept hidden at the bottom of Down Street for uncounted years - a secret which could mean disaster for Mayhew, Door and all of London Below.

Neverwhere is hardly an original tale. A young man, stuck in a rut in the real world, enters a magical world where he must overcome his fears and reflect on aspects of himself that he couldn't in the real world. But what is interesting is the way that Gaiman has taken elements of the London we know, like Blackfriars and Earl's Court and given them a new twist in his mythical land.

It's just a personal bugbear, but I do so hate it when works insist on being prefixed by the author's name - it seems so childish. Stephen King titles have a habit of doing this, but Neil Gaiman is really only known for a handful of things - this being one of them - so calling this Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere seems a little silly.

Despite the fact that Neverwhere is painfully shallow and borrows from so many much better text (Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz for starters) when a tried and trusted format works, it works well and despite it sounding like I didn't enjoy this collection, nothing could be further from the truth.

Mike Carey brings Gaiman's world alive in a way that the TV series didn't. And, as always Glenn Fabry's art is a step above the rest.

Well worth picking up.

Nick Smithson

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