Posts Tagged With: Neverwhere

Top 10 Fantasy Books of 2009

Okay, so I want to make sure we’re clear before diving in: this is not a list of the best fantasy books released in 2009, but rather the top books read and reviewed here at Fantasy Book News in 2009. That said, there are some newer books, and some classics, but overall this is an elite list of fantasy novels that any avid reader should check out. And away we go.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

While this series is going on fifteen years, I gave a re-read to the first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series in 2009, in audio book format. The book still has the same enchanting effect as the first time I read it, and is still the standard to which I compare most other fantasy books, and absolutely any epic fantasy books. Check out the full review of A Game of Thrones.


Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

The second book in Lynch’s seven book Gentlemen Bastards series delivered what many creative people struggle to accomplish time and time again: give the audience a better experience than the original. Red Seas Under Red Skies upped the stakes from The Lies of Locke Lamora, and hit ended up hitting a grand slam. Read the full review of Red Seas Under Red Skies.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This whopping freshman fantasy novel by Rothfuss completely transports you to another world, which is one of the goals that every fantasy novel aspires to. Believe me, I read most of it while lounging poolside in Araxa, Brazil, and I can’t tell you how many times I forgot my beautiful surroundings for the world that Rothfuss creates. Check out the full review of The Name of the Wind.


The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

The quintessential fairy tale, The Last Unicorn is simply a beautiful story. Get lost in a world of fantasy and magic, complimented with a fantastically original plot and a genuine sense of humor. Read the full review of The Last Unicorn.


Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn is an absolutely beautiful novel. Its got everything that a fantasy reader looks for: insanely original devices, characters you can identify with, tons of action, and wholesome undercurrents. We have a full review of Mistborn over here.


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Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Book review of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere


It can be tough reviewing a book that has been turned into a movie or tv series. Luckily, I’ve never seen the Neverwhere tv series, so this review isn’t influenced by images of characters painted on screen, rather than in my head. Neil Gaiman is possibly most well known for his work on The Sandman graphic novel series. Neverwhere is his first solo novel, although he co-authored a book in 1990 with fantasy author Terry Pratchett. I’m not actually sure which came first, the tv series or the novel for Neverwhere; they were both released at the same time in 1996. I haven’t read his Sandman comics, but I had high hopes coming into reading Neverwhere, based solely on the popularity of the comic series.

Neverwhere presents a wonderful world where the line between reality and a sort of subterranean alter-reality blur. The book’s main character, Richard Mayhew, works in an office, is engaged, and is basically an average guy. It is this premise that the novel toys with; the drudgery of living out a mundane life of 9 to 5 office work, starkly contrasted with a world where rats are supreme beings, a fantastic moving marketplace can be held at night in strange city locations, and the scenes shift from strange trains in the London underground to hobos making their abode on the rooftops of skyscrapers.

The cast of characters is as entertaining as it is eccentric. Richard and Door, the other main character, are constantly pursued by a pair of classic baddies: Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. They are protected by Hunter, a fierce female bodyguard, and are involved with The Angel Islington, an angel that in one scene serves them possibly the most potent wine in all creation. This is just the upper echelon of characters; there are plenty of well fleshed out supporting characters.

The characters in this alter-reality are not typically able to be seen by people living in the real world. They can get their attention if they try hard enough, but even when they accomplish this feat the people in the real world tend to forget they exist in a heartbeat; its like they don’t exist. There is a wonderful scene where Richard and Door attend an art gallery, as it is the entrance to the path that leads to The Angel Islington, and Richard’s finance is at the gallery, organizing an event for her company. The idea of individuals that exist in a world parallel to our reality, but seem to be just out of reach is painted vividly here.

Gaiman’s prose is like devilish poetry at times:

The carriage smelled like a morgue might at the end of a long, hot summer during the course of which the refrigeration equipment had failed for good.

and just plain hilarious at others:

Ruislip, the Fop’s opponent, resembled a bad dream one might have if one fell asleep watching Sumo wrestling with a Bob Marley record playing in the background. He was a huge Rastafarian who looked nothing so much as an obese and enormous baby.

Neverwhere is an original world, with a host of original characters and an extremely satisfying ending. Neil Gaiman’s ability to create a world that seems just out of reach is incredible, and he offers a bit of fantasy that just about anyone will identify with. This is a wonderful novel for fantasy fans; those with a healthy library of urban fantasy or those just tasting the genre for the first time.

You can pick up Neverwhere over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 8 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

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