Richard Mayhew is a young, successful businessman living in London. One evening, while on his way to dinner with his fiance, he spots an injured girl bleeding on the sidewalk. Refusing to continue on with his evening until the girl is looked after, Richard takes her to his apartment after her refusal to see a doctor.
The following morning the young lady has miraculously recovered and asks Richard to seek out a man to assist her in her return home. Travelling through an area of the city he’s never known to exist dubbed “The London Below”, Richard locates and returns to the girl with the desired man in tow. Shortly after they vanish from his life, Richard begins experiencing strange occurrences. He’s fading into obscurity, his own fiance doesn’t recognize him and his apartment is on the market for new tenants.
Determined to find the young lady, whom we have come to know as “Door”, Richard is looking for an explanation into why this is happening to him. Can Richard find his new found friend and return to his normal life?
If I’m going to come away with anything from this novel it’s that I enjoyed it a great deal more than American Gods. I didn’t realize until after the fact that the novel was adapted from the television series of the same name. Not sure I’ve ever heard of a popular author taking that route as it’s normally the other way around.
The interactions between the inhabitants of “London Below” and “London Above” reminded me a lot of China Mieville’s The City & The City. Obviously this book came first and I felt that Gaiman did a pretty bang on job. Nothing against Mieville but I had a much easier time reading this than I did that – then again, Mieville isn’t considered light reading by any stretch of the term.
I loved Gaiman’s world building and the rich cast of characters he’s created for the story. As with American Gods, Gaiman excels at crafting characters with diverse backgrounds and interesting personalities – he’s certainly no slouch when it comes to that. The world of London Below captured my imagination. An ever shifting market and travelling through deep, pitch-black tunnels where one can be claimed by the darkness is downright creepy.
The villains Croup and Vandemar were excellent and Gaiman must have had a lot of fun in writing them. Not only do they get to show their mean, terrifying side but they also got some of the biggest laughs out of me; they were consistently entertaining.
All in all, this was a pretty important book for me. I wasn’t a fan of American Gods and was less than impressed with Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader so I was beginning to think that maybe Gaiman just wasn’t for me. However, having a much better reaction to this story has kept my interest level high when it comes to checking out what else he’s got out there.