“I mean, maybe I am crazy. I mean, maybe. But if this is all there is, then I don't want to be sane.”
Neverwhere – what genre to call it? Difficult to define – the popular shelf label is Urban Fantasy, but to me it’s not quite that since it takes place mainly in a fantasy setting. Horror is certainly present, especially from the diabolical hands of the twisted villains, complete with gory tidbits. Ultimately I’m settling on Dark Fantasy since it’s more of an adult fairytale with horror twists.
This was my first read of Gaiman, and I have to say I’m impressed – he has a colorful way of weaving scenes where they’re burned firmly in your psyche without having to dig into the bag of excessive descriptions and tedious derailing. Some of the sentences are downright poetic, but the bulk of the writing is straightforward polish.
Characters are another successful feat. Richard, a good person overruled in his personal life by those more aggressive, works well as the lead when he’s absorbed into this distasteful world. The Marquis was varied with his scope of being both likeable and unlikeable; his scenes proved he was one of the better characters with his dry humor and never knowing quite where you stood with him. Not knowing whether he could be trusted, not sure which side he was on till the end, made him stand out as a delight to read about.
Croup and Vandemar are some of the more unique villains I’ve had the pleasure of reading. They’re insane but almost amusing with their bizarre dialogues, viewpoints, and personality oddities – clever with their killing and torture ability, top notch at finding their prey, and able to create chills for the reader when they’re zooming in on their victims. I never saw some of the surprises with who they ended up working with.
While rich in fairy tale fantasy, it’s not confusing if you keep reading, the world being a complex build of chilling monstrosities (especially that bridge of darkness), creative otherworldly beings (rat speakers and the twists of raising the rats to a higher level in London of all places...), and fantastical elements including angels, secret doors, and created portals.
Pacing comes in an even hand, there’s heavily applied suspense during nail-biting scenes, and there are plenty of surprises to wrap scenes with. The ending choice on Richard’s size wasn’t a surprise, but even with the boring life he’s returning to, I doubt I’d have chosen the same fate as he did.
Definitely worth a read – will be checking out more of the author’s work in the near future.
“You've a good heart. Sometimes that's enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it's not.”
“I have always felt that violence was the last refuge of the incompetent, and empty threats the last sanctuary of the terminally inept.”
A Stroll in London at Dusk