34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Intuitive modern day fantasy at its best., 18 Feb 2006
This is an intelligently, darkly written modern fantasy at its best. The characters are vivid and the images are all charmingly un-hinged and eccentric. Gaiman creates "the other London" - a London existing underneath our mundane world. This is Tolkein, Kafka, C.S Lewis and Pratchett all spiralled and spun into one demented mixture (though not necessarily in that order).
The main character Richard - an ordinary 30 something businessman - is inadvertently sucked into this other world by helping a young girl. His quest to "get back home" to the world above the underground throughout the entire novel only seems to heighten the dark characters and the fantastical nature of this bizarre, eccentrically charged world. The beautiful, yet quirky Door, Old Bailey, the irascible Marquis de Carabas, and the inhumane brutality of the villains Mr. Croup and Vandermar are all terrifyingly, yet wonderfully vivid and fantastical. This is how THE TEMPEST would have read had it been dreamt up by an intoxicated rock band from hell.
Coming to Gaiman for the first time, I was slightly dubious as I skimmed over the dark cover of the novel for the first time in a book shop. I let it settle for a while on my coffee table as I got home. But when I eventually picked it up I was hooked from the first page onwards. Not only is it a suspense thriller, its also a beautifully written journey through fairy land, through insanity, and heaven and hell, through light and through darkness.
I was unable to put it down even as the birds began to sing again in the dark of the twighlit hours of the morning - a fitting setting to the black, bohemian and slightly demented world of Under London, tinged with flashes of comic genius. I will never look at a tube station in the same way again. Truly worth a read. Highly recommended...