Every year my husband and I go to a wonderful remote town on the west coast of Vancouver Island called Tofino. We love the beach, the culture, the quiet of this lumber, fishing, and tourist destination. There’s also great food everywhere.
One thing we always do is stop in at the local bookstore, Mermaid Tales. It’s an excellent shop and we always find new and interesting reads. I discovered Iona Wishaw there (see a previous post about her wonderful mysteries) and this time my husband discovered Steve Burrows’ Birder Mysteries. He hasn’t come up for air yet!
On this October trip I picked up Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I’ve enjoyed his Norse Mythology, so I thought I’d give this a try. I do enjoy fantasy, but with limits, but as this is set in London I figured it would work!
It is a very interesting conceit, with a “London Below” and a “London Above.” Gaiman uses an old map of London’s Tube, locating many of the stations that no longer exist. For example, there used to be a British Museum station. Looking at the description on a map and in a Wikipedia article, I don’t know that it would get you any closer than the current High Holborn and Russell Square stops, but it’s interesting to know that London’s Tube has shifted and changed with the years. The characters and locations in “London Below” all relate to Tube stops. For example, there is an angel named Islington. Angel is a Tube stop in the Islington area. He also makes use of London’s underground rivers, as have writers Christopher Fowler (Bryant and May) and Anthony Horowitz. (You can read about them in my previous posts.)
Neverwhere is a kind of frightening tale of one young man, Richard Mayhew from “London Above,” who gets drawn into “London Below” when he stops to help an injured young woman on a London street. Her name is Door, and he follows her to look for a door that will help save her life, and that of many others. There are some really creepy evil people in this book, but the fantasy part holds extremely well. Although I wasn’t sure at the beginning if I would stay with it, the story line totally hooked me and I had to finish to find out what happened! I wasn’t totally surprised by the ending, although it is, in many ways, surprising.
As we approach Halloween, if you want to read a nice, creepy, intriguing fantasy, I recommend Neverwhere. (N.B.: The story about the book is as interesting as the book itself!)