Good morning, JP!
I could go on about Neil all day long. This man can *write*, and he
does it so engagingly!
I'm going to assume you're already familiar with his landmark (and
Nebula Award winning!) "Sandman", and concentrate instead on his three
Neverwhere - 1997
Poor Richard. He can't seem to get a break, no matter what he does.
His job isn't terribly exciting, his girlfriend is an arrogant,
spoiled and inconsiderate young woman, and all he really wants is to
"get away" for a while.
He finds his opportunity in the person of Door, a young woman he
literally stumbles over as she lies bleeding on the sidewalk. He's
late for a dinner meeting but wants to help her anyway, and Jessica
(the nasty girlfriend) threatens him - "If you stop, we're finished.".
Richard stops, Jessica stomps off...and the most amazing thing
happens. Richard "disappears"! He suddenly no longer has a life in
"London Above", and finds himself whisked away to "London Below",
where magic is real, a thief styles himself Marquis, and the gap
between the platform and the train of London's legendary Underground
is home to a wispy yet deadly monster that will suck your life out if
you don't "mind the gap".
Part adventure, part murder mystery, part commentary on learning the
value of what is important to you, Neverwhere leads the characters on
a wonderfully spooky chase through "forgotten London", where the
people who've fallen through the cracks of modern society wind up.
Easily one of my favorites.
Stardust - 1999
Originally published in 1998 as a graphic novel, lovingly illustrated
by renowned fantasy artist Charles Vess (
http://www.greenmanpress.com/ ), Stardust follows the life of Tristran
Thorn, a young man who's a little "different" from the rest of his
It turns out that Tristran is half *Fairy* - the product of a drunken
evening in the Faerie Market between his father and a lovely fae. No
wonder he feels a little out of place in his little village of Wall!
Tristran sets out to find his Fairy mother, and finds along the way a
fallen Star by the name of Yvaine. Yvaine is angry about her crash
landing on Earth, and takes it out on Tristran, berating him at every
opportunity. He tends her gently throughout their journeys...one
thing leads to another...and they fall for each other. Their first
kiss is my favorite scene in the entire story. The Vess illustration
accompanying the passage in the original graphic novel is a perfect
accent for Gaiman's breathtakingly detailed prose. A few years back,
I had the privilege of reading this very passage for a fan CD produced
to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund ( http://www.cbldf.org ),
and enjoyed every minute of it.
Stardust is a beautiful fairy tale for grown ups, a lovely reminder
that there truly is magic loose in the world.
American Gods - 2001
Shadow is a curious fellow. With just days to go on a prison sentence
(served for a crime he didn't commit) he finds himself called to the
Warden's office and told he's being released early - his wife has died
in an accident, and he needs to go get her affairs in order.
On the plane home, he meets up with an older man who goes by the name
of Wednesday. Wednesday, it seems, knows quite a lot about him,
though Shadow cannot fathom why. They drink, they talk, they
negotiate, and Wednesday offers Shadow a job. He accepts...and his
life irrevocably changes.
American Gods follows Shadow through all manner of odd situations as
he and Wednesday set off on a road trip of mythic proportions -
literally. From encounters with Bast, Horus, and Thoth, to arm
wrestling the Czernobog, to flushing out the misdeeds of a Hinzelmann,
to battling with the likes of Loki, we learn what has become of the
gods of our forefathers and how they struggle against obscurity in
this strange new land were everything is not quite what it seems.
Even Shadow is more than just a clever ex-convict, we find out in a
fairly startling twist near the end.
You need two things to really pick up every detail of this deft
slight-of-hand trick: a taste for the supernatural and a
comprehensive guide to the assorted ancient pantheons. Very nearly
everyone in this book is actually someone else, which makes for much
interesting background reading after.
For more about Neil Gaiman, have a look at his site:
He updates his blog almost daily, and is always happy to let his fans
know what he has in the works. He's easily one of the most personable
and accessible authors around, and my absolute favorite besides.
I hope you enjoyed the plot summaries! Please do get hold of any or
all of these, and treat yourself to a wonderful reading experience!