Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

IMG_5349Young man,” he said, “understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above – that’s where you lived – and then there’s London Below – the Underside – inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night.

Intriguing in concept and full of imagination, Neverwhere tells the story of a fantastical world in which there are two Londons: London Above (real London) and London Below (full of magic and invisible to those above). Richard Mayhew has a successful career, a fiancée, and is relatively happy with his life, until one fateful night opens his eyes to a London he never knew existed. His encounter flips his world upside down and takes him on an unforgettable journey under the streets of London, which is filled with danger and adventure.

“You’ve a good heart. Sometimes that’s enough to see you safe wherever you go. But mostly, it’s not.”

I thoroughly enjoy Neil Gaiman’s writing style. There is a quality to it that provides an almost fairy-tale feeling and really brings back childhood memories of diving into great and fantastical stories. Neverwhere is written wonderfully and the world created is quite fascinating and compelling, however there is something about the story as a whole that just did not click with me and I never fully engaged with it. There is a disconnect with the characters that was there throughout the entirety of the novel, and I did not care for the main character, Richard who I found to be incredibly irritating. His journey is one that supposedly leads to growth but there is frustratingly little character development, if any. For this reason, Neverwhere is an okay fantasy novel rather than a great one.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

fullsizeoutput_1ad“I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”

Neil Gaiman has been one of those authors on my to read list for quite a bit of time, and now that I have read one of his books I only wish I would have started exploring his works a lot sooner. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane as my first Gaiman book, and I definitely understand all the love for this author. The writing is so beautiful and it transported me back to that feeling of wonder when reading fairytales as a child.

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”

In The Ocean at the End of the Lane our narrator is back in his hometown for a funeral, and revisits his old neighbourhood, flashing back to a time during his childhood that affected him deeply. A death close to home sets free a darkness that is not easily processed by a little boy. He finds comfort and a safe haven in the farm down the lane, where his new friend Lettie lives with her mother and grandmother. Throughout the story we journey through the events that occur, seeing everything unfold though the eyes of a child. With beautiful writing and passages that will stick with you for some time, The Ocean at the End of a Lane is a truly magical read.

“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”