Hi, Hey, Hello!
I realised as I was looking at the list of books that I had read for the year that I went through this thing where I was only reading books written by female authors. They all seemed to align in a way that meant I was just reading one after the other (side note, I also discovered that the split is 21:19 to female authors). So I decided to shake it up and read a book written by a male author, although I am not gonna lie a lot of the reason that I also picked this book is because it now comes with beautiful illustrations.
The book in question is this one:
I started this book all the way back in 2014 and then sort of couldn’t get into it so I put it down and then never picked it back up again. Until now.
I love Neil Gaiman. Plain and simple. And this book just confirmed that love for him even more. It took a London that I like to think that I know pretty well and turned it delightfully on its head. It was beautiful.
Richard Mayhew is maybe one of my favourite characters that I have been introduced to this year. I don’t know what it is about him but I just really liked him. I liked following his journey as he got dragged into London Below and started going off on this crazy quest…all because he was trying to be a good person. I liked that he was the reader’s entry into the story and so we were discovering and traveling along on this journey right there with him. I liked that he ended up being the most unlikely of heroes but also a fantastic one. I could on, but the long and short of it is that I really bloody loved Richard Mayhew.
The inversion of London is my ultimate favourite element of this book. The Black Friars, the Angel of Islington, the overall personification of the stations and the underground system below the city was just genius. Total genius. It was just so clever and I loved discovering the new ways that the underground stations were going to be introduced. With the characterisation of the underground also came the Floating Market, which was another stand out feature of this book for me. I basically just really loved the way that the idea of London Below was interwoven with London Above and for the time that I was reading the book (and let’s be honest this is still happening now) is the idea that this might actually exist around me.
For example rats are painted in an altogether nicer light then the one they exist in outside of literature (for the most part). They are vessels of communication and one day last week I was standing on the platform waiting for my train and watching these two rats scuttle about with no real sense of direction and my actual first thought was ‘oh I wonder if they know anything interesting’. I mean they must do right? Then my train pulled in and I went back to reading the book.
That’s what this book basically did for me in a week that was ultimately pretty shitty. It made me see the world around me in a slightly, more curious light (I am also incredibly tired these days meaning my imagination is just working over time right now). Even though the Angel of Islington was sucked through a door there was a part of me that thought maybe it was around as I passed through Highbury and Islington Station every morning and a part of me that wonders who the rest of the Seven Sisters are as I went through that station 3 times the past week.
Gaiman created this world that felt so real and was just so magical and it just reminded me completely why I love his writing in the first place.
Some other things. Door, I love. I, funnily enough, want to know loads more about her and her family and about the wonder that appears to be her house and it’s non-connected rooms. Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar were the most delicious of villains. Hunter, total bad-ass, also didn’t see her being the traitor coming, up until the point where it was stated otherwise I was convinced that it was the Marquis. I have a feeling I am not alone in thinking that…The ending. The ending made me so happy. Richard’s return to London Above and the conflict that caused after he kind of accidentally made something of himself Below was so well written and I was right there with Richard as he had to deal with this slightly better than before reality while still knowing what he had done. So yeah, the final page of the book instilled a lot of joy in me.
And I couldn’t have read the illustrated edition of this without discussing the illustrations themselves. They are stunning. I would on more than one occasion paused and just marvel in the detail that was created in this images. They also create an image that is very similar to the ones that I had as I was reading Gaiman’s description of the characters. They basically just elevated the book to another level and I am so happy that this edition is in my life.
If you’re looking for an introduction into Neil Gaiman then I would strongly recommend this book as the first one.
Parentheses count: 4. See you tomorrow!
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