Under the streets of London lies Neil Gaiman’s secret world of Neverwhere… mysterious tunnels populated by homeless tribes and supernatural beings. Check out the novel, graphic novel and BBC TV series…
Neverwhere – the book
Buy on Amazon: Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text (Book)
Buy on Amazon: Neverwhere – the graphic novel
There’s nothing exciting about Richard Mayhew at first; he comes from a small, nameless town in Scotland, and moves to London to find a career. His girlfriend is successful. He goes for drinks with Gary from Marketing. There is always, it seems, a Gary in Marketing. One day, on the way to dinner with his girlfriend, a dirty, battered, bleeding girl falls onto the street in front of him. And then everything goes to hell.
Set in two different versions of London, ‘Neverwhere’ is an urban fantasy that sells itself as a whimsical re-imagining of homeless tribes surviving in the Underground system. ‘Neverwhere’ was created by Neil Gaiman as a response to a challenge by Lenny Henry to ‘create something about homeless people being heroes’. Neil Gaiman declined, on the grounds that if he wrote something specifically about homeless people, he’d make the lifestyle prospect so attractive that everyone would want to leave home for the streets immediately.
Instead, he created ‘Neverwhere’. Yes, there are underground types in ‘Neverwhere’ – the forgotten and lost of London. But everything is drenched in magical realism and a fantastical approach to the London Underground system (we won’t spoil it for you, but look at the names of the London underground stations. Seven Sisters, Angel Islington, Blackfriars… now let your imagination run riot).
Everyone, as one character in ‘Neverwhere’ explains, is dangerous. Nothing is what it seems at first. And the London that Richard Mayhew had so recently grown used to is snatched from his reach.
Anything written by Neil Gaiman might as well sell itself, but ‘Neverwhere’ deserves an extra pitch. As soon as I started to worry that Gaiman was relying a little too heavily on tried-and-true fantasy formulae, I discovered that was exactly what he wanted me to think, and I had fallen into his trap. It’s almost not fair. Gaiman is so good at anticipating an audiences’ reaction to his writing he takes us all for an elaborate ride.
‘Neverwhere’ is dark, fascinating, picturesque and magnetic – I missed my stop twice when I read it on the train.
Neverwhere – the BBC TV series
Buy on Amazon: Neverwhere – The Complete BBC Series  [DVD]
Gaiman completists should note that ‘Neverwhere’ was also made into a BBC TV series. While low budget, it is imaginative and a brave departure from what you usually see on TV. Neil Gaiman has said he’d like to create a bigger budget remake of the ‘Neverwhere’ TV series at some point…