Next up: “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman
Another stand-alone novel by Gaiman, though this one has a novella-length sequel that was published in an anthology edited by George R.R. Martin (“Rogues” 2014).
Richard Mayhew has a good life ahead of him; he’s recently moved to London pursuant to starting a new job, he has a fiancée who has a promising career, and he’s looking forward to the future. This changes, however, when he stumbles upon a young girl, bloody and battered, and helps her. However, the girl, Door, is a denizen of the strange and other-worldly London Below, and by involving himself in her world, he has removed himself from his own. Richard finds that nobody can see or hear him, his fiancée and his coworkers have forgotten him, and his apartment has been rented out to other people.
Richard heads off to London Below to find Door and to get her help in getting his life back. But things don’t quite work out with that, and he ends up getting tangled up in Door’s own quest– to find those responsible for killing her family. But there is a pair of “men” hunting her, and those helping her, down for some unknown purpose.
I keep wanting to like Gaiman’s works. They’re always really imaginative, with synopses that sound awesome. But when I go to read them, I just… It falls flat. I don’t think I’m a fan of the style of storytelling. In this book and “American Gods” we get the story through the lens of an outsider– an “everyman” who falls by chance into the magical/supernatural world hidden at the margins of our own. And they are outsiders who ride along with the story passively. They just don’t seem present in the story, and I just don’t like that disconnect. I want characters (particularly the main character) to be more of a player in a story– in their own life.
I’m sure that readers who don’t mind passive protagonists would love the story, though. It’s a good one– urban fantasy, a magical “underground.” There are good twists, interesting reveals. I just couldn’t fully engage.