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Customer Review

139 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mind the Gap, 14 Dec. 2004
This review is from: Neverwhere (Mass Market Paperback)
Everybody traveling in London by Tube, is familiar with the loudspeaker's warning "Mind the Gap", that is the space between platform and train carriage. Reading Gaiman, "Gaps" takes on a much more complex meaning... People can fall through the cracks, literally, not only down onto the rails but much deeper, ending up in "London Below". Richard Mayhew, a young man with nothing much happening in his life, is an unlikely Samaritan. Still, when confronted with a choice he follows his charitable instinct and assists a wounded rag girl he finds lying in the street. To save her from her apparent killers he goes on a quest and from this moment his life turns into a rollercoaster of discovery and danger.
"Neverwhere" is a brilliant yarn of life in the underbelly of the city, with shady human characters, speaking rats and special "guides". There is more than one reality for sure. In London Above, Richard and the rag girl, named appropriately "Door", can be seen but not recalled beyond the moment. The real-life maze of London underground tunnels, hidden passageways and dead ends provide the existent, yet twisted, backdrop to the story. Time and distances have no meaning. The names of tube stations acquire new relevance: the Earl resides at Earl's Court, the black Friar monks are in Blackfriars and Islington is an Angel. Following Door and her unusual companions, Richard discovers the limits of his endurance. He has to question his existence and reality. While his desire to get back to his normal life keeps him going, his chances to shake loose from the shadowy underworld increasingly appear to diminish...
The novel, which expands on Gaiman's successful tv production, is a fascinating read, whether you know London or not (yet). His style is fluid and engaging, his characters are very much alive and moving the various layers of intrigue along at a good pace. [Friederike Knabe]
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Feb 2014 17:30:13 GMT
Merget says:
I wonder if Mr Gaiman picked up a copy of G K Chesterton's 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' at some time before he wrote this. The idea of Shepherds at Shepherd's Bush, the legendary blacksmith of Hammersmith, and Knights defending Knightsbridge (with consequent rivers of Kensington Gore) tickled its whimsical hero as long ago as 1912. 'I have never been to St John's Wood', he says, 'I dare not. I should be afraid of the innumerable night of fir trees, afraid to come upon a blood-red cup and the beating of the wings of an eagle. But all these things can be imagined by remaining reverently in the Harrow train.'
One of the lovely things about 'The Napoleon of Notting Hill' is that it is short and one wishes it were longer. So much modern fantasy is the other way about.

Posted on 29 Jun 2014 09:22:15 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Jun 2014 09:25:15 BDT
John Ryan says:
Hi there Friederike,

Superbly written and informative review. I'll add the book to my list to read. My wife read it in three days and absolutely loved it. She says it's a darker tale than Rivers of London: 1 which although a little whimsical, is still hugely entertaining. We've both read what's now turned into a series of books - this is the first.

One addition I would make, is I've "read" the "Rivers of London" books on Audible while driving to/from work, and the reader (an excellent actor in his own right), really brings the stories to life. A pleasure to read, even better to listen to.

Many Thanks again, and keep writing! John Ryan

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jun 2014 21:41:50 BDT
How lovely to receive your comment! Thank you so much. It does encourage me to post more reviews again on amazon.co.uk.I will check out "Rivers of London". Friederike
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