Cat Eldridge Review: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text (William Morrow, 2017)

Review by Cat Eldridge: There are any number of editions, many in the author’s preferred edition, of Neverwhere from inexpensive paperbacks to really costly hardcover editions signed by Gaiman. And of course, it exists as a digital publication in the same author’s preferred edition, not to mention as a graphic novel, a BBC series, which is interesting if flawed, and a full cast audio-drama, which is splendid. But the edition I own, well, aside from at least three audio works, one read by Gaiman and two full cast productions, and an ebook, is the illustrated edition with artwork by Chris Riddell which is what I’m reviewing here and what these illustrations are from.

Now I’ll admit that I don’t really actually collect paper books anymore as I prefer reading these days on the iPad as I can set the font and such to what suits me best, and being in and out of hospital because of a serious knee injury means I always have all my current reading on the iPad. 

But this edition of Neverwhere is as much an art object as it is something to be read. An art object that I couldn’t find in the genre area of Books-A-Million as they’d shelved it in horror, which is appropriate, actually. That said, I will read it as it looks wonderful as something to be read on an evening.

It’s not a big hardcover book, measuring just eight inches by five inches. It comes sans dust jacket but has a front cover of Door (and I’m assuming that you’d not be reading this review if you’ve not most likely already read Neverwhere several times so I won’t be saying who the characters are in this review) standing on a sidewalk in London Above with a Doorway showing London Below in the background. And yes there’s a rat shown. Not a cute rat. The back panel has a quote from Croup of Croup and Vandemar asking Richard where Door is. And there’s another rat there. There’s lots of rats illustrated here. Very appropriate.

I‘m reasonably sure that you already know about Gaiman so I’ll talk about Riddell. He’s a British illustrator and occasional writer of children’s books and a political cartoonist for the Observer, the quite left-leaning newspaper. He’s won many an award for both his work there and that of other works for whom he’s provided the illustrations. As far as I can tell, this is his first genre undertaking. He’s lauded for his drawings which make very good use of actual pen and ink craft.

So here we get hundreds of his illustrations, including of course all the major characters such as Croup and Vandemar, who are even more scary as he envisions than I had thought in my mind’s eye, as you can see here; The Marquis is splendid in his medieval looking garb; Richard looking, well, lost and needy as he is in the novel; Lamia looking properly vampirish; and even Jessica, who I never liked. Why there’s even the Great Beast coming off looking a lot more horrifying here than he did in the video series where he just looked silly.

There’s full border wrap-arounds showing London Below folk. And of course as I noted lots of rats, most looking not at all charming.

So if you’re looking for a new edition for yourself, I wholeheartedly recommend this edition which also includes “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” novelette which is a sequel to the novel. Or a prequel. 

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3 thoughts on “Cat Eldridge Review: Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text

  1. “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” is definitely a sequel. Neverwhere is how he lost his coat, and his throat is still sore from the experience.

  2. And thank you for bringing this to my attention. I had no idea it existed. It looks as though Riddell and Gaiman have done a number of books together.

  3. Jim Janney says And thank you for bringing this to my attention. I had no idea it existed. It looks as though Riddell and Gaiman have done a number of books together.

    They have. This is my favorite largely because Neverwhere is by far the novel by him that I like most. Stardust is the other one.

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