In a strange set of circumstances, Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere is a novelized adaptation of a BBC miniseries he co-created. Working backwards, as opposed to having a written work adapted for film (Stardust) or TV (American Gods), Neil fleshes out the everyman hero of Richard Mayhew and delves deeper into the fantastical and eye-winkingly comical land of London Below, complete with black friars and elephants within castles, and where Richard, looking for an exit back to his terribly-mundane and beautifully-predictable life, is essentially trapped after helping the injured Lady Door. The question being if such elaboration was entirely required.
Certainly, Neverwhere is completely Neil Gaiman. The worlds are imaginary, the characters are rich of back-story and tales, and his intricate writing style flourishes with grand, beautiful descriptions of settings, feelings, and thoughts. Through all that, Neverwhere is also too long, too slow, many of its scenes are missing the pop of a fast-paced television series.
Neverwhere could have been a fantastic, longer entry in Trigger Warning, Gaiman’s 2015 collection of short-ish stories, or even a novella akin to Ocean At The End Of The Lane. The complete novelization of Neverwhere makes a tiring marathon out of what could have a pleasant afternoon jog. Absolutely, an enjoyable, magical read by a master, but shorter can sometimes be sweeter.