Neverwhere

by Neil Gaiman

“This is reality. Get used to it. It’s all there is.”

The man has no right to write like this. Yes, there’s a craft perfected with hard work, but it just seems so easy; it must be so easy. Beneath even a small section of a seemingly whimsical tale is (always) something profound. And it’s not even hidden, it’s just a single layer down. But while philosophy is ever-present it serves the story, and you can be deeply moved, grinning ear-to-ear and fighting back tears all at the same time. You’ll sit down to begin reading, smile once, open it up to broad grin within a couple of pages, and will be laughing out loud by page 9.

Richard Mayhew is relatively happy with his normal life and rushing to dinner with his fiancé when an injured girl appears before him on the sidewalk. His fiancé Jessica, already running late for the dinner with her rich, important boss, implores Richard to leave the poor homeless girl alone or at most call someone else for help. Richard refuses and because the girl is adamant at avoiding a hospital Richard takes her home with him to tend her wounds and talk sense into her for proper care tomorrow.

The girl is much better the following day but a couple of bruisers show up looking for her and Richard stands in their way. His fiancé leaves him, his friends desert him, he loses his job and nobody in the world can even see him properly anymore. He follows the girl, Door, to the hidden underground of London where the story begins.

What follows is a grand adventure for a mythic key in an impossible land of magic with Richard so far out of his element he spends most of the story astonished. It’s troubling, it’s funny, it’s moving and most important it’s true. As you approach the story’s end you’ll find yourself exerting your own will, making sure the author has written want you want, what you need to happen. If he didn’t write it that way, well then he can just go back in time this very instant, rewrite it, publish it in the past and make sure it’s all wrapped up and ready so when you read the next few paragraphs it’s been properly fixed. Except it doesn’t need to be fixed.

It’s amazing, it’s not to be missed, and it’s just not fair to other writers having to contend–the perfect modern fairy tale.

“I’d watch out for doors if I were you.”

5 stars

 

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