My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Neil Gaiman writes as though he’s telling a child’s fairy tale. No matter how grotesque or violent the events depicted within the story are, the language used seems to make it seem (almost) OK. I suppose actually the original old fairy tales were actually quite nasty before Disney started making sanitised versions!
Richard Mayhew stops to help an injured girl on the street of London, but she’s not from London Above, she’s from London Below. When you’ve been exposed to London Below, the people from Above don’t even notice you, let alone recognise you; you’ve slipped through the cracks, and fall down into the underside of the city. A place where you might actually meet the Earl of Earl’s Court, the Blackfriars, and maybe even the Angel Islington. The girl, Door, is on the run from a variety of unsavoury characters, in particular Mr Croup and Mr Vandermar, the assassins who murdered her family. But why? And who is their employer? Richard tags along with Door, the Marquis de Carabas, and a whole host of colourful characters, in the hope that he can find a way to get back to his old life.
Having previously heard the BBC Radio 4 production of this book, I’ve wanted to properly read this for ages. The radio play did a really good job adapting this book, and both the written and audio versions work really well. Very little was left out of the radio adaptation, and yet the book still is full of detail that can only be hinted at through other formats. It’s a gripping narrative, and showcases all of London, at it’s best and worst. One of Neil Gaiman’s best (and they’re all good!).