Posts Tagged ‘original’

Neverwhere

September 28, 2011

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title:  Neverwhere

Genre:  Fantasy Fiction

Publication Date: 2007 (recorded)

Number of pages: 10 sound discs (12.5 hours)

Geographical Setting: Present-Day London (England) and fantasy London Below

Time period: Contemporary

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: The book tells a story of a young Englishman, Richard Mayhew, who enjoys routine and avoids conflict, that is until he impulsively helps a girl he finds bleeding on a sidewalk and is thrust into a fantastic world of London Below. There Richard and his companions, the girl named Door, a shadowy figure-Marquis de Carabas, and a she-warrior named Hunter, embark on a suspenseful quest of obsession, revenge against a powerful evil, and a desire to return home. This strangely believable parallel universe of London Below is inhabited by humans who “have fallen through the cracks” of the modern city, by revered rats, chilling vampires, brilliant angels, and many other colorful villains and heroes, amongst them a deliciously wicket couple of werewolf-like creatures, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, who add a brilliant touch of Victorian macabre to this story. In his imagining of London Below, Gaiman blends history, mythology and religion with the issues of good and evil, while on a deeper level the author sheds a satirical light on Londoners’ modern-day inability to “see” people who are homeless, addicted or just different.  Neverwhere is a fast-paced book with a dark and suspenseful story and a rich set of fantastic characters. The story is also sprinkled with witty word puns and literary allusions, making this book appealing not only to the fans of urban fantasy but to the readers of dark literary fiction. Finally, the unabridged, audio version of this book, as narrated by the author, only makes the story better. Neil Gaiman provides an intimate and pitch-perfect reading of the book. His accent emphasizes the setting of the story, his varied dialects provide unique personalities to the characters, and his even and calm tone adds to the suspense of the plot.

Subject Headings: English fiction—20th century, Parallel Universes, Quests, Underground Worlds, Villains, Heroes, Angels, Go0d and Evil.

Appeal: suspenseful, dark, menacing, character-driven, chilling, intricately-plotted, entertaining, witty, world-building, fast-paced, intimately-narrated, original, urban, imaginative.

3 Appeal Terms that Best Describe this Book: dark, engrossing, intimately-narrated.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1) London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd: a witty and engaging story about everything that lies underneath London, from streams, animals, ghost stories, Roman buildings to Victorian sewers, gang hideouts and modern train stations.

2) Necropolis: London and Its Dead by Catharine Arnold: a macabre historical tour of London’s dead with an emphasis on London’s plagues, fires, and burial grounds hidden underneath the contemporary city.

3) A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels and Other Subversive Spirit by Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack: a great reference guide to the world’s most famous folkloric and mythological spirits, their sources and their role in the society.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1) A Madness of Angels: or the Resurrection of Matthew Swift by Kate Griffin: a dark and witty story of Matthew Swift who wakes up in his London bed two years after being murdered and starts his quest for revenge.

2) The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind: a story of a young woman, Jennsen, compelled by inhuman voices in her head on a vengeful quest against the demonic powers.

3) Kraken: an Anatomy by China Mieville: another urban fantasy vision of London (England), in which Billy, a young museum curator, is propelled into a supernatural underworld filled with magic squids, witches, golems and warriors.

Megan Rosol

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The Graveyard Book

August 10, 2011

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title:  The Graveyard Book

Genre: Fantasy, Suspense

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 336

Geographical Setting: A graveyard in England

Time Period: Current times

Series:  N/A

Format:  Audio

Plot Summary:  “There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.”  So begins the extraordinary story of a boy, a toddler really, who was made an orphan on that fateful night.  The knife held by the man Jack takes the lives of the boy’s father, mother and sister and would also have taken the boy’s had he not tumbled out of his crib and escaped into the darkness.  He wanders into an abandoned graveyard where the forgotten souls residing there agree to take him in as one of their own.  He is named Nobody Owens, (“Bod”) for protection, and in honor of his of his adoptive parents, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a ghostly but genial couple.  The mysterious Silas, who is neither dead nor alive, is his guardian,  bringing  him food and ensuring  that he is educated in the ways of the dead and the living.  The book follows Bod’s life in the graveyard with each chapter set in a different year.  Throughout this time however, there is still the man Jack, searching for Bod so that he may finish his work.  When Bod turns fifteen, he is ready to leave the graveyard and resume a life of his own among the living, but first he must confront the evil that has been stalking him for so long.  Bod’s final showdown with the man Jack provides a dramatic and satisfying conclusion to this unusual story.  This is a fast-paced book with magical and creepy moments.   Gaiman’s storytelling skills are brilliantly inventive, particularly in relating Bod’s adventures with the visiting ghouls and his rescue by the talented Miss Lupescu.   However, what makes this book a standout, is that along with the witty plot, odd characters and unusual setting, the author also creates the poignant story of an orphan boy  learning the skills needed to survive in the world.   The audio version of The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman himself, completely sets the tone, beginning with a beautifully performed rendition of “The Danse Macabre” on banjo.  This music selection immediately alerts the listener that this will be a sinister, perhaps quirky book, but not necessarily scary.   Gaiman is the perfect reader, using different accents for different characters and able to mimic precisely the indescribable call of a night-gaunt.   His understated reading of the text, in particular the opening chapter with its gruesome murders , is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock at his best.

Subject Headings:  Cemeteries, Ghosts, Supernatural, Werewolves, Vampires, Assassins, Orphan Boys

Appeal:  attention grabbing, witty, enthralling, scary, suspenseful, sinister, creepy, wild, well crafted, bittersweet, smart, wry, original, imaginative, clever, poignant, foreshadowing, quirky

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: original, suspenseful, bittersweet

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by Douglas Keister, engraved symbols used on tombstones  tell a very detailed story about  the person buried there; The Other Side:  A Teen’s Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal by Marley Gibson, an informative look at  the technical aspects of ghost hunting as a hobby; Encyclopedia Horrifica:  The Terrifying Truth About Vampires, Ghosts,Monsters and More by Joshua Gee, geared to young adults, this is a paranormal reference book  described as “hilariously horrifying.”

3 Revelant Fiction Works and Authors:

  Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, about a boy who can see ghosts, is certainly more of an adult book, but it shares the same darkly humorous tone.  The graphic novel version, In Odd We Trust might be less intense.   Christopher Moore, A Dirty Job,   another adult book about a new father who can see ghosts is described as “dizzyingly inventive and hypnotically engaging”,  similar to The Graveyard Book.  Skellig by David Almond, is a young adult novel that tells the story of a strange creature living in a shed behind a young man’s house and has the same eerie, magical feel.

Name:  Chris M.