After hearing an enthusiastic review of this book from a friend (who dared suggest that it might be better than the LOTR), I was more than eager to read it. (Since he hasn’t read the trilogy yet and we’ve been friends since highschool, I forgave this blasphemy.) Anyway, since he said it was fantasy, I was more or less expecting something like a quest in a world similar to Middle Earth, Narnia, the Palm, Earthsea or even Pern.
Well, duh. I should have known. This friend, after all, read R.L. Stine as a kid and wrote dark poetry in highschool. So I should not have been surprised to find Neverwhere nowhere near the sunlit, forested realms I was familiar with. The world where the protagonist, Richard Mayhew, gets trapped in is a mysterious, sinister and shadowy underworld called London Below. And the things that happen to him, the places he discovers and the people he meets are equally bizaare and surreal.
But surprisingly, I liked it. Loved it in fact. Neil Gaiman’s prose is so rich and detailed that I almost felt the dampness of the tunnel walls and the heaviness of the shadows. Like all the fantasy stories I love, it has danger, suspense and wonders that linger in the mind after the last page is read. It is complex and frightening, elegant and satisfying. So thank you, Phoenix.
But of course, no one will ever come close to Tolkien. Hehe.