“Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman – not really a novel, just a disappointing novelisation


I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps I just read it too late. I remember being intrigued by the first episode of the BBC TV series “Neverwhere” back in 1996 but I never saw the rest of the series.

I read and enjoyed the novel that Neil Gaiman wrote with Terry Pratchett back in 1990, “Good Omens” about an angel and and demon conspiring to prevent the End of Days so they can keep their cushy jobs.

I’d hoped that “Neverworld” would give me the same kind of pleasure. Maybe it would have if I’d read it in the 90’s when the ideas were fresher (or perhaps I was just younger and less jaded) but this time round it struck me as a good idea that had been competently written up but which never really engaged my emotions. I really didn’t care what happened to the main character. He was a whiny waste of space who pretty much deserved whatever he got.

The ideas in the book are fun. I’m sure it made good TV (although it seemed rather poorly funded TV at the time) and the graphic novel is probably worth a look.

As I went through the book, I could find nothing wrong with it other than it wasn’t satisfying. It was like biting in to one of those perfect-looking red apples the supermarkets sell and then being disappointed becasue it looks great but tastes of nothing much at all.

Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that this is a “novelisation” and not a novel. Novelisation is a word as dreadful and depressing as the style of book it usually describes. Novelisations aren’t novels, they are just textual reprises of the film or tv series you enjoyed.

Perhaps that explains why this feels more like a novel that is a ghost of itself


4 thoughts on ““Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman – not really a novel, just a disappointing novelisation

  1. Novelisation? Is there two versions of this book, the original and a novelization of the miniseries? Because the BBC miniseries was OK, but not awesome at all.

    Neverwhere was my first Gaiman way back when, and I loved it, and went on to read many more of his books! It’s certainly not his best work in the long run, but it was a satisfying read for me.


    • Hi Redhead,

      I haven’t read anything else by Gaiman yet but I enjoyed the “Stardust” movies based on his book.

      In the case of Neverwhere, the BBC series preceded the book. The series was co-written with Lenny Henry. In the series, the Floating Market in Harrods had to be swithched to Battersea powers station because Harrod’s management backed out of the deal. That’s one reason why the book has the “Author’s Peferred Text” as its tagline


      • no kidding! having read the book first and then years later seen the BBC mini, i would have never guess the miniseries came first. Just goes to show you learn something new every day. 😀


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