Richard is somewhat of a reluctant hero. His heart is usually in the right place, but he is quite mild mannered and gets pushed around a lot. The homeless girl, Door, has only recently become homeless and Richard ends up joining her in her quest to find out what happened to her family. She is also being helped by the Marquis de Carabas who is a liar and a cheat and who Door inexplicably trusts implicitly.
This book reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, except much darker and funnier, crossed with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, except much darker and less focussed on humor. That is to say, it’s completely twisted and wonderfully unconventional. Everything in London Below is related to something in the “real” world but with some delicious spin on it that makes the thing almost completely foreign. I liked the ending too—It makes you wonder how Alice readjusted to normal life after her adventures.
Gaiman’s prose is delightful, too. He can be describing something like the noxious gas of the London Fog that the party is enveloped in at some point and still turn a phrase that expresses Richard’s unpleasantness while at the same time making me laugh. This book is dark but somehow never succumbs to the horror schlock of a Dean Koontz or Stephen King—It’s admirably uncomfortable without being explicit or gross. It’s filled with great plot twists and you are never quite sure who the main bad guy is (though you are quite sure who his henchman are—two horrible creatures that play off each other like a demented Laurel and Hardy).
I really enjoyed this book. It was a remarkably easy read—it just sucks you in. Really, it took me only about two days to read the whole thing (those two days were separated by a month or two, but that’s a different story). I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fast paced, enjoyable read.