January 20, 2013


This is one of those books I knew I'd like, but it just kept getting pushed to the side in favor of more urgent things.  Thanks to this year's TBR Double Dare, I've finally gotten around to it.

It's pretty standard fantasy stuff.  Guy accidentally finds his way into a parallel and previously unknown world.  In this case it's London Below, contrasted, of course, with London Above.  To get back to his normal life he has to help someone on a quest, encountering many strange and wonderful and terrible things.

I don't think anyone reads Gaiman for the originality of his plotting, but the intensity of his characters and the unique spin he gives to some of these well-known tropes.  He seems to be having particular fun here upturning expectations with who to trust and who not to trust.  That, and the language.  Now this is, I believe, the earliest Gaiman I've read (other than the Sandman books) and it shows.  There's just the tiniest whiff of trying too hard in some of the clever lines.

My biggest problem was with the main POV character, Richard Mayhew.  He is a bit of a sop and it takes just a bit too long for him to finally grow a pair.

But there are some fantastic, so to speak, side characters and I wouldn't mind a whole other book just on the Marqius de Carabas (kind of a modern spin on the Puss in Boots character).  Gaiman is great with the tricksters, that's for sure.

I knew there was a BBC miniseries of this, but I gather he wrote this either after or concurrently wit the show, not before.  Which is interesting.  It is also, apparently, about to be another great BBC radio play.  That sounds interesting indeed.  Great cast for it.  I'll be looking forward to that now.

Anyone else tackling a reading challenge?  How's it going for you?