Audio Book Review: Neverwhere


I’ve had my palm read twice. The first time was an elderly black woman Willie Jean, a self proclaimed psychic. She lived in a huge store front where she gave readings and lived in a built in loft in the back. Her house was full of stuff. Mostly yellowing newspapers and garbage. One summer she was hospitalized for a time and a group from the neighborhood went through her house and cleaned it up so that when she got back she wouldn’t get some kind of infection. I still have paint splatter on a pair of my jeans that are from helping paint the kitchen walls yellow and Willie Jean’s.

I was visiting my Mom in Chicago, before I moved out here, and we went over to visit with her and bring her food. I was sitting next to her on the couch and she kept eyeing me with interest. Without warning she snatched up my hand and pressed her fingers into my palm. I was a tad startled and my mother just explained that Willie Jean read people by the …vibratations?… feeling their palms. I just wondered if I was supposed to pay for a reading I didn’t really want.

What did she tell me? “You have a sweet soul, but you have a lot of learning about life to do.” I was 21 at the time, and none of this came as a surprise.

The second time I had my palm read, it was also against my wishes. I must send out some kind of energy that entrances people who like to read palms, I really don’t know. I was working with this . . . quirky guy Danny (honestly, quirky is the nicest way to talk about him. I have other Danny stories that are far more ridiculous than this) a scrawny white guy who wore shirts that were two sizes too big and was trying to make it in the acting business. He asked to read my palm. I told him, No thank you. Several weeks later he grabbed my hand and told me that my “creative line” was really strong and curved sharply. That I should watch out because I had an overactive imagination. Again, not much of a surprise to me.

Danny also once tried to rearrange my aura. He literally was pulling at the air around my head until I told him to stop. I said I wanted my aura the way it was. That I was contemplating something and that just because he wanted my aura to be brighter and happier didn’t mean I did and he should leave it alone. (Ask me some other time about the birthday sex conversation I had with him.) Oh Danny.

I guess Richard Mayhew never had these experiences with quirky people when he was younger because when an old woman reads his palm one day and tells him that his life will begin with Door, he is slightly freaked out and fails to listen to her.

When Richard Mayhew stops one day to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London pavement, his life is forever altered, for he finds himself propelled into an alternative reality that exists in a subterranean labyrinth of sewer canals and abandoned subway stations. He has fallen through the cracks of reality and has landed somewhere different, somewhere that is Neverwhere. Blurb from GoodReads

I checked out Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman via my library’s helpful audiobook selection and got the unabridged, author’s preferred text edition, that is read by the author himself. Why preferred text? What does this mean? Well, I found an explanation about previous publisher going under and Gaiman having to get a second publisher for his story. I’m really glad I got the audio book, it is a story that renders itself well to being heard and experienced as a listener to an accomplished storyteller. Gaiman has an excellent speaking voice, is a good voice actor, and  hearing the story from the author was one of the best parts of this audiobook. I’m slowly becoming one of Neil Gaiman’s most devoted fans. I say slowly because my TBR pile is huge and it is taking me a while to get to some of his books that I’ve been meaning to read for  years. I read The Graveyard Book as an introduction to his work and was eager to get my hands onto  more of his stories. (I’m also a huge fan of his wife! They are an awesome couple!) The minute I started listening to Neverwhere I was entranced.

Richard Mayhew is kind of an Everyman.  He life takes a sharp turn toward the weird and he falls down the rabbit hole. At the bottom of that hole is a deep well of water and it takes him a while, but eventually Richard learns to swim among the treacherous waters. I like Richard’s transformation across the story, it is subtle, but by the end Richard has been changed by his adventures. All he wants is to get back to his normal life, but in the end he discovers he isn’t so normal himself. The girl he meets is in all kinds of trouble and drags Richard along with her. Door is strong, smart, and cunning. She also uses people to get what she wants. But in a straightforward kind of way, that I must applaud her forthright attitude and actions. She gets stuff done, she makes the moves on the chessboard she needs to, and she fights for what she wants. The side characters in this book are just as delightful, and every single person serves a purpose to move the story in a unique direction. Gaiman’s prose and storytelling are masterful.

I also like how Gaiman writes stories that discuss greater human themes in subtle and engaging ways. Neverwhere is about the people who fall through the cracks of society and gives them their own world and universe. Humanizing the homeless man sitting on the street corner and showing us how we fail to see all of humanity as we pass by it. He does this without preaching, he does it with out pointing it out, he just makes his comments about society fall at the right moment from the right person onto the page of his story.

7 thoughts on “Audio Book Review: Neverwhere

  1. It’s impressive he’s read his own work as being a writer doesn’t necessarily qualify you as a good reader. I have herd talk of a sequel but I think that rumour’s been doing the rounds for a long time.

    I’ve read American Gods, which has some interesting stuff in it, and I would recommend.

    • I agree, being a writer does not mean you can be a voice actor. There is a lot more involved than just reading the words as my voice over class taught me! But I think he does a really good job. I’ve heard that rumor too, it seems as prevalent as rumors of more Firefly episodes/movies and just as likely to happen (i.e. unlikely).

      American Gods is next on my list to read from him (actually I have an audiobook to listen to once I get a few read on my tbr list).

  2. Pingback: 30 Days of Thankful: Books and The Ones I Loved in 2013 | Absurdly Nerdly

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