An ordinary man living an ordinary life suddenly comes across a bleeding girl. He stops to help. His life suddenly changes. She’s part of London Below — a city below the city, where people who fall between the cracks go. Once you’re part of the underworld, you cease to exist in the Upworld. People of London Above don’t even know you exist, even when you’re standing right before them. Adventure ensues. People die (and come back). A great beast is killed. Keys are found, doors are opened — all in a dark, scary, grimy, dangerous world below London.
Parts of this book actually reminded me of that Relic sequel, the one about the underground homeless. The entire society under the streets, the vicious hierarchies, the secret rooms and abandoned subway stations… I liked that part a lot. I really enjoyed the descriptions of what people wore down there, what they ate (you don’t want to know), how society works in a generally lawless environment.
I was glad to recognize the name Marquis de Carabas — from one of my favorite fairy tales, Puss In Boots. I liked that this character remained something of a mystery — it was hinted that he had a certain past, but we never find out what that is.
The main baddies, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, were extremely wonderful in their extreme badness. Foxy and wolfy, hunting together, their favorite activity is causing agonizing pain and death. Preferably in that order, but not necessarily. They were a very happy injection of humor in a dark story.
The two main characters — Door and Richard — were interesting and moved the story along, but I didn’t feel like they developed as much as I would have liked. Richard’s transformation was not quite as rich as I wanted, and I didn’t feel like I got to know Door as well as I’d like.
Loved the world, loved the badassed badasses, loved the Gaiman details. A lovely, dark, sorta scary story that bloomed in my mind almost fully formed. I love when that happens.