“Neverwhere: Author’s Preferred Text” by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, 2015)

In 1997 Neil Gaiman published his first novel, Neverwhere, and to many fans (including me) it’s his very best. Now fans get something a little extra with a special edition of Neverwhere known as the “author’s preferred text.” In the introduction, Gaiman talks about the various versions that have been available over the years and that this one is his definitive, preferred text, featuring some extra details and scenes that make the story fuller and more complete.

This is the story of Richard Mayhew, who is an average London businessman, engaged to a woman he thinks is way out of his league, and has always kind of had trouble fitting in. Then one day a woman appears out of nowhere on the sidewalk seriously hurt. Richard brings her home and tends to her. As she is recovering he meets two very interesting people, Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, who are looking for a woman named Door. As the woman recovers to a sufficient degree, Richard learns that she is in fact Door, and then she is on her way, out of his life with barely a thank you.

As Richard steps back into his normal world he finds he is no longer part of it. Friends and family no longer recognize or even see him for that matter. It appears he doesn’t even exist to people in the real world. The only thing he can think to do is track down Door and find out what is exactly going on. And so begins Richard’s adventure in to the alternate world of London below. Along the way he will meet many strange and unusual people, some that wish to friend him, and some that wish him harm. All he wants is to get back to his old, boring, normal life.

Neverwhere is the perfect example of what Neil Gaiman’s mind can create. It is a story that sucks in the reader and never lets them go. In this special edition there is also an extra short story set in the same world, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back,” as well as some hints from Gaiman that he hopes to one day soon return to this world and write more in it.

Originally written on December 31, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Neverwhere: Author’s Preferred Text from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“The Sandman: Overture” by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by JH Williams (Vertigo, 2015)

Sandman Overture

Twenty-five years ago the world was introduced to one of the most important comic series ever created and it launched Neil Gaiman’s career. Gaiman put the series to bed some years ago, but now on the quarter-century anniversary he returns to tell a tale he’s had in his imagination since he began the series, as he says in his introduction. It is a story he has wanted to tell for a long time and now readers finally get the chance to enjoy it.

Fans who’ve read Sandman know of the Endless: Delirium, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Death . . . Dream. They know the events – eventual catastrophic ones – of the comic book series. But in The Sandman: Overture, readers get a prequel of sorts. At the beginning of the first Sandman volume, Preludes & Nocturnes, Morpheus is exhausted and has apparently been through a great ordeal and this is that story.

Dream travels to a place and time where he encounters the many manifestations of the sandman across the entire universe. Here a meeting will be conducted and decisions will be made. And then Dream will go on a journey with some unusual companions and meet some family members he didn’t expect to see anytime soon. Again, decisions and choices will need to be made that will affect the entire universe.

One might be hesitant about what to expect when a writer returns to the opus that made him so well known after a quarter century. Will it be a captivating original story or a quick thrown-together thing to milk an already successful series? Fortunately it is the former, and Gaiman shows he had a least one more important story to tell in the Sandman universe that has earned itself a spot next to the other volumes of this popular series.

Originally written on January 13, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Sandman: Overture from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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“Chu’s Day at the Beach” by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex (Harpercollins, 2015)

Chu's Day at the Beach

The cute little giant panda Chu jumped on the scene in Chu’s Day to the delight of parents and children alike in a fun board book as a circus suffered the deleterious effects of Chu’s sneezing. Now the duo – Gaiman and Rex – are back with the followup, Chu’s Day at the Beach, this time in full picture book format. Now, some parents might be thinking their kids won’t enjoy it as much since it’s not a board book, but when they see the finished product they will realize their kids are going to love this sequel just as much as its predecessor.

As the title says, Chu joins his parents in a trip to the beach. As Chu is enjoying his ice-cream, he takes off his sunglasses and looks up at the sun, making his nose twitch, and then lets out a big squeeze that causes an even bigger problem than blowing away the circus and this time it will take some other characters to help him put everything back together again.

The beauty of the picture book is in the larger artwork from Adam Rex which is vibrant and colorful and simply fascinating to study with the vast menagerie hanging out at the beach in their strange and entertaining anthropomorphic ways. The story’s fun; the artwork is astonishing; all around a great book.

Originally written on January 30, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Chu’s Day at the Beach from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

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