Neverwhere Summary and Study Guide

Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere

  • 38-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 20 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by a professional writer with a background in literature
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Neverwhere Summary and Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 38-page guide for “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 20 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Self-Sacrifice and Betrayal vs. Trust.

Plot Summary

Neverwhere, by British author Neil Gaiman, was originally a television series. However, Gaiman wanted to flesh out the story more, so he wrote the novel version. This urban fantasy takes inspiration fromThe Wizard of Oz as well as from other allegorical sources, such as the Bible. Important themes in Neverwhere include self-sacrifice, redemption, and betrayal vs. trust. The story follows a “Hero’s Journey” as defined by Joseph Campbell.

The novel begins with Richard Mayhew, who is about to move from Scotland to London, England. Before he leaves, an elderly woman reads his fortune and warns him about doors. Years later, he’s living and working in London, and engaged to a woman named Jessica, who believes that Richard is and should be stylish and successful like her boss, Mr. Stockton. Richard and Jessica have a falling out after Richard saves an injured girl named Door, who seems to have appeared in London magically after fleeing a pair of assassins, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar.

Richard helps Door enlist the help of the Marquis de Carabas, a mysterious trickster who deals in favors and snark. Afterward, Richard tries to return to his life only to find that he no longer exists in what’s known as London Above; he has fallen through the cracks and now exists only in London Below. He goes to seek out Door and the Marquis in order to find a way home, but ends up on an adventure during which he discovers his courage.

Other dynamic characters include the Marquis, who becomes a good man, and Hunter, a bodyguard whose remorse over her own betrayal of Door leads to her redemption following her self-sacrifice. Their mission involves finding a mysterious key that they need in order to pass several tests and, ultimately, to help a trapped angel named Islington.

It turns out that Islington is either evil or insane—either way, he doesn’t intend to help the adventurers. Instead, the angel has employed Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar. Islington has also enlisted the help of Hunter. He was trapped after destroying the city of Atlantis, and wants to use Door’s powers in order to gain access to Heaven in hopes of overthrowing God.

Door and her friends stop Islington, Mr. Croup, and Mr. Vandemar. Richard is honored for his bravery in London Below, and restored to life in London Above. However, he decides that life there is dull, and, in the end of the book, reconnects with the Marquis in order to return to an existence of excitement and adventure.

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