By Neil Gaiman; Read by Gary Bakewell
2 Cassettes; 2 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Highbridge Company
Themes: / Fantasy / London Underground / Magic / Urban Legend /
Neil Gaiman is certainly one of the most decorated storytellers at work today – his books seem to be on the final ballot for every conceivable award, and rightly so. His work is unique and fantastic (in both senses of the word).
Neverwhere follows part of the life of Richard Mayhew, a young businessman who lives in London. He lives a dreary life full of accounting books and deadlines, and is engaged to Jessica, who works in the art industry. His life is changed completely when he stops to help Door, a young woman he finds injured on the sidewalk. Unwittingly, he is introduced to a world he never knew existed – that of London Below. There, beneath the city, Door is not only Door, she is “Lady” Door. And an entire population lives down there, living lives unknown to those who live in London Above. Mayhew quickly finds himself hip deep in her problems as she runs from Croup and Vandemar (a pair of serial killers) and tries to solve the mystery of the murder of Door’s whole family. With them travels the Marquis of Carabas, a man willing to do much for a favor, and the famous Hunter, a female bodyguard. London Below is filled with interesting characters and more than a touch of magic.
Gary Bakewell (who plays Richard Mayhew in the BBC television series) does an excellent job with the narration. His voice drew me quickly into the wonderful strangeness. The sound effects and editing mimicked that of the television series. But, this was an abridgement. In this case, that means that the ending was rushed as events were crammed into that last quarter to make the 2-hour cut.
Having seen and enjoyed the BBC TV series, I can say that the parts that were missed along the way in this story are very worthwhile, and an unabridged version of Gaiman’s novel would be welcome. But this abridged audiobook captures the flavor of the story well. Even with the skipped events and rushed ending, the story makes sense, and it’s worth a listen.