Tag Archives: Angel Islington

Neil Gaiman Ate My Brain!

17 Mar

A few months ago I got a copy of one of Neil Gaiman’s anthologies for my birthday, I think it was “Smoke and Mirrors”.  I was enchanted with his writing style, his imagination and his ability to juggle words like a street entertainer juggling balls.

I was already familiar with his name, due to the fact he had written my favourite short story ever – “A Study in Emerald”, a Lovecraft/Conan Doyle crossover that had appeared in the anthology “Shadows Over Baker Street”.

I decided I would read more of Mr Gaiman’s work, but hadn’t got around to it.  The push I needed came when I read online that Benedict Cumberbatch was appearing in a BBC Radio adaptation of “Neverwhere” as the Angel Islington.  I know, you already knew the delectable Benedict Cumberbatch fitted in here somewhere.  I really am getting too predictable.

However, whatever the initial motivation was, I was soon captivated by “Neverwhere”.  It made my brain hurt.  A lot.  But I loved it.  Gaiman’s writing style and word play are simply delicious.  As one who loves the English language with a passion, giving me “Neverwhere” to read was like feeding me caviar and champagne.

I found myself drawn into Richard Mayhew’s life.  I loved the quest motif that prevailed throughout the book.  Mayhew spends the book trying to get what he wants, then when he gets it, he discovers he no longer wants it.  Because in the course of his adventures, he has changed.  He is no longer the man he was, so the life he now has, is no longer a good fit for him.  A wonderfully graphic demonstration of the old adage “Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it”.

The characters, even the minor ones, are interesting and captivating.  I admit to being fascinated by Islington.  So compassionate and so cruel.  Every line I read I could hear Benedict Cumberbatch delivering.  That was an inspired piece of casting on someone’s part.

I can understand why they went for a radio adaptation rather than television or cinema.  “Neverwhere” is incredibly graphic.  The murderous duo of Mr Croup and Mr Vandermar are so violent that on screen you probably only get away with it if Tarantino was directing.  Not to mention the fact that the special effects budget would be horrendous.

The wonderfully weird part is though, that even at their most violent, Croup and Vandermar are enchanting.  Vicious, evil, urbane, charming.  The Blues Brothers as imagined by Quentin Tarantino.  Definitely not your average run of the mill story book villains. 

All of the characters in “Neverwhere” are enchanting.  Neil Gaiman has the most wonderful talent for creating characters that breath magic and enchantment.  They wind themselves around your heart, before sinking their fangs in.

A brilliant writer and a brilliant book.  I am looking forward to furthering my acquaintance with Neil Gaiman’s work.

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