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The stunningly original and brilliant first novel from a storytelling genius
Neil Gaiman was born in England but now lives in Minnesota, in a big house of uncertain location where he grows exotic pumpkins and accumulates computers and cats.
In his first full-length novel, Gaiman, the comic-book mastermind, brings his talents to the black-and-white world of books, eschewing the darkly elegant illustrations that are a trademark of his comics. However, this journey to yet another fantastical realm is full of haunting images just the same. The story revolves around Richard Mayhew, a bumbling young businessman, who is about to discover a new side of London after helping a wounded girl named Door. He is trapped in an alternate dimension, known as London Below, or the Underground. Once he steps into it, he finds that his normal life no longer exists. The only chance of getting his old life back is to accompany Door on a dangerous mission across the Underground. Like adults stumbling through the pages of a bizarre children's story, Gaiman's likable protagonists fight off the sinister villains of this nebulous underworld. Shards of the concrete world continually pierce the surreal surroundings, as Gaiman weaves a link between the two dimensions of London. Gaiman's gift for mixing the absurd with the frightful give this novel the feeling of a bedtime story with adult sophistication. Readers will find themselves as unable to escape this tale as the characters themselves. Highly recommended.‘Erin Cassin, formerly with "Library Journal"
London businessman Richard Mayhew sees an injured, homeless girl on the street one evening and is compelled to bring her back to his apartment. In this debut novel by Gaiman, author of the wildly successful graphic novel series The Sandman, the girl, whose name is Door, ushers Richard into a strange new world. She communicates with rats and pigeons and is amazed to find herself in what she calls "London Above." When she leaves, however, Richard's ordinary life vanishes with her. He discovers that he is virtually invisible on the street, in his office, even to his fiancée. Believing that only Door can help him, he finds his way to London Below, a menacing, magical netherworld located in the sewers, tunnels and abandoned Underground stations. Inhabited "by the people who fell through the cracks in the world," London Below is equal parts fantasy, nightmare and ragged medieval court life. There, Mayhew joins Door, a female warrior called Hunter and an opportunistic marquis on a quest to discover why Door's family was executed. Villains abound, including a pair of courteous but malevolent assassins. Gaiman blends history and legend to fashion a traditional tale of good versus evil, replete with tarnished nobility, violence, wizardry, heroism, betrayal, monsters and even a fallen angel. The result is uneven. His conception of London Below is intriguing, but his characters are too obviously symbolic (Door, for example, possesses the ability to open anything). Also, the plot seems a patchwork quilt of stock fantasy images. Adapted from Gaiman's screenplay for a BBC series, this tale would work better with fewer words and more pictures. 125,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (July)
'Gaiman has a rich imagination...and an ability to tackle large themes' * Philip Pullman * A very fine and imaginative writer * The Times *