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1 Beaverton Science Fiction and Fantasy- A to Z

Neverwhere: A Novel


Neverwhere: A Novel Cover




Chapter One

She had been running for days now, a harum-scarum tumbling flight through passages and tunnels. She was hungry, and exhausted, and more tired than a body could stand, and each successive door was proving harder to open. After four days of flight, she had found a hiding place, a tiny stone burrow, under the world, where she would be safe, or so she prayed, and at last she slept.

* * *

Mr. Croup had hired Ross at the last Floating Market, which had been held in Westminster Abbey. "Think of him," he told Mr. Vandemar, "as a canary."

"Sings?" asked Mr. Vandemar.

"I doubt it; I sincerely and utterly doubt it." Mr. Croup ran a hand through his lank orange hair. "No, my fine friend, I was thinking metaphoncally — more along the lines of the birds they take down mines." Mr. Vandemar nodded, comprehension dawning slowly: yes, a canary. Mr. Ross had no other resemblance to a canary. He was huge-almost as big as Mr. Vandemar — and extremely grubby, and quite hairless, and he said very little, although he had made a point of telling each of them that he liked to kill things, and he was good at it; and this amused Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. But he was a canary, and he never knew it. So Mr. Ross went first, in his filthy T-shirt and his crusted blue-jeans, and Croup and Vandemar walked behind him, in their elegant black suits.

There are four simple ways for the observant to tell Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar apart: first, Mr. Vandemar is two and a half heads taller than Mr. Croup; second, Mr. Croup has eyes of a faded china blue, while Mr. Vandemar's eyes are brown; third, while Mr. Vandemar fashioned the rings he wears on his right hand out of the skulls of four ravens, Mr. Croup has no obvious jewelery; fourth, Mr. Croup likes words, while Mr. Vandemar is always hungry. Also, they look nothing at all alike.

A rustle in the tunnel darkness; Mr. Vandemar's knife was in his hand, and then it was no longer in his hand, and it was quivering gently almost thirty feet away. He walked over to his knife and picked it up by the hilt. There was a gray rat impaled on the blade, its mouth opening and closing impotently as the life fled. He crushed its skull between finger and thumb.

"Now, there's one rat that won't be telling any more tales," said Mr. Croup. He chuckled at his own joke. Mr. Vandemar did not respond. "Rat. Tales. Get it?"

Mr. Vandemar pulled the rat from the blade and began to munch on it, thoughtfully, head first. Mr. Croup slapped it out of his hands. "Stop that," he said. Mr. Vandemar put his knife away, a little sullenly. "Buck up," hissed Mr. Croup, encouragingly.

"There will always be another rat. Now: onward. Things to do. People to damage."

* * *

Three years in London had not changed Richard, although it had changed the way he perceived the city. Richard had originally imagined London as a gray city, even a black city, from pictures he had seen, and he was surprised to find it filled with color. It was a city of red brick and white stone, red buses and large black taxis, bright red mailboxes and green grassy parks and cemeteries.

It was a city in which the very old and the awkwardly new jostled each other, not uncomfortably, but without respect; a city of shops and offices and restaurants and homes, of parks and churches, of ignored monuments and remarkably unpalatial palaces; a city of hundreds of districts with strange names — Crouch End, Chalk Farm, Earl's Court, Marble Arch — and oddly distinct identities; a noisy, dirty, cheerful, troubled city, which fed on tourists, needed them as it despised them, in which the average speed of transportation through the city had not increased in three hundred years, following five hundred years of fitful road-widening and unskillful compromises between the needs of traffic, whether horse-drawn, or, more recently, motorized, and the needs of pedestrians; a city inhabited by and teeming with people of every color and manner and kind.

When he had first arrived, he had found London huge, odd, fundamentally incomprehensible, with only the Tube map, that elegant multicolored topographical display of underground railway lines and stations, giving it any semblance of order. Gradually he realized that the Tube map was a handy fiction that made life easier but bore no resemblance to the reality of the shape of the city above. It was like belonging to a political party, he thought once, proudly, and then, having tried to explain the resemblance between the Tube map and politics, at a party, to a cluster of bewildered strangers, he had decided in the future to leave political comment to others.

He continued, slowly, by a process of osmosis and white knowledge (which is like white noise, only more useful), to comprehend the city, a process that accelerated when he realized that the actual City of London itself was no bigger than a square mile, stretching from Aldgate in the east to Fleet Street and the law courts of the Old Bailey in the west, a tiny municipality, now home to London's financial institutions, and that that was where it had all begun.

Two thousand years before, London had been a little Celtic village on the north shore of the Thames, which the Romans had encountered, then settled in. London had grown, slowly, until, roughly a thousand years later, it met the tiny Royal City of Westminster immediately to the west, and, once London Bridge had been built, London touched the town of Southwark directly across the river, and it continued to grow, fields and woods and marshland slowly vanishing beneath the flourishing town, and it continued to expand, encountering other little villages and hamlets as it grew, like Whitechapel and Deptford to the east, Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush to the west, Camden and Islington in the north, Battersea and Lambeth across the Thames to the south, absorbing all of them, just as a pool of mercury encounters and incorporates smaller beads of mercury, leaving only their names behind.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com, September 12, 2013 (view all comments by Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club com)
Richard is not the kind of guy to make waves. He lives a normal life in London with a fiancée who tells him what to do and a good-enough job where he performs well even if he doesn’t distinguish himself. That all changes the day he sees what appears to be a homeless girl on the sidewalk who is hurt. When he stops to help her, his life cecomes entwined with the underworld of London, a place full of hardship, danger, deprivation and totally unlike anything he has ever experienced before. He also discovers that if he wants his old life back, he’ll have to be daring in ways he never thought he could be.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman takes the reader on an adventure in a richly imagined world with demented assassins that live for centuries, a family that can open doors where there are none, a separate underground system existing alongside London’s Tube, along with the darkness and dirt you would expect to find in a world below.

Richard has never considered himself a hero or any kind of risk taker. He has always plodded along doing the thing expected of him. But thrown out of his normal life, and with his life threatened, he learns to call upon personal resources he never imagined he had. His relationships with the characters he meets in the underworld are more intense than any he has had above ground. It all makes him wonder if regaining his old life is really what he wants.

Neverwhere is a great book for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 16 and up. Discussion can center around the world Gaiman creates as well as Richard’s struggle between his desire for his old life and his thrill at stepping out of the bounds he has created for himself. That theme should resonate well with girls on the cusp of finishing high school and moving on to what comes next.
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sunshdws, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by sunshdws)
I actually listened to the audible version of this book, narrated by Neil Gaiman himself, and it was amazing. Aside from fabulous narration (wonderful accents, distinct characterizations), the novel really draws you into this incredible and somehow believable "other world". I found myself thoroughly caught up in the story and didn't want to put it down until it was finished. I missed it when it was over.
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Coni, January 30, 2007 (view all comments by Coni)
Richard Mayhew life is turned upside down after he finds a bleeding girl on the street. He is dragged from his normal, everyday life in the London Above to the world he didnt know existed in the London Below filled with rat talkers, angels, demons and people who have fallen through the cracks.

It reminded me very much of Weaveworld by Clive Barker. It isn?t the same story but it has the same tone and I really enjoyed the fantasy world that was right under everyone?s noses without them realize it. The main guy kept wanting to get back to his normal life, but after seeing his ?normal? life, I just wanted him to stay where he was. It was much more interesting.

I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes books that describe fantasy worlds that are just out of touch from the reality we currently live in.
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Product Details

Gaiman, Neil
William Morrow & Company
Winter, Susan
by Neil Gaiman
New York
Fantasy - General
Horror fiction
Fantasy fiction
Fantasy - Contemporary
Underground areas
Underground homeless persons
General Juvenile Fiction
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Contemporary
Edition Number:
1st Perennial ed.
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Publication Date:
September 2, 2003
Grade Level:
from PreS to K
5 x 5.875 in 8.00 oz
Age Level:
to 5

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Neverwhere: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Perennial (HarperCollins) - English 9780060557812 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A terrific surprise....Consistently witty, suspenseful, and hair-raisingly imaginative....Some of the best pure storytelling around."
"Review" by , "Excellent....[Gaiman creates] an alternate city beneath London that is engaging, detailed, and fun to explore."
"Review" by , "More than mere entertainment....[A] strange place where fabulous worlds collide with mundane reality."
"Review" by , "A rich blend of observation and imagination — seedy, scary, charming, alive....It's a well-paced, entertaining read with a bracing core of pain and sweetness."
"Review" by , "Neverwhere displays the kind of wit, mythological invention, and attention to the odd detail that will be familiar to anyone who has read Gaiman's groundbreaking comic series, The Sandman."
"Review" by , "Darkly whimsical....The narrative whips along at a breakneck pace....There are plenty of laughs as geography takes on a mythical dimension....You'll never look at the tube the same way again."
"Review" by , "[A] darkly entertaining novel....Gaiman fans shouldn't be disappointed, and it's nice for those who haven't encountered his work before."
"Review" by , "[Gaiman] is, simply put, a treasure house of story, and we are lucky to have him in any media."
"Review" by , "Alice in Wonderland with a punk edge doesn't begin to do justice to Neil Gaiman's first solo novel....In Neverwhere he has surpassed himself, creating a twisting tale to be treasured."
"Review" by , "Neil Gaiman is a star. He constructs stories like some demented cook might make a wedding cake, building layer upon layer, including all kinds of sweet and sour in the mix."
"Review" by , "Gaiman blends history and legend to fashion a traditional tale of good versus evil, replete with tarnished nobility, violence, wizardry, heroism, betrayal, monsters and even a fallen angel."
"Synopsis" by , When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternate reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere.
"Synopsis" by , Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinarylife, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
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