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(3.5 min read)
Tuesday's Episode: Neverwhere, Gaiman, and Urban Fantasy

Dear <<First Name>>,

After a somewhat tricky discussion on Ayn Rand last week, here I come with a book in one of my most comfortable, favourite genres: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, traversing the world of urban fantasy.

Richard, who finally settles down and is looking forward to a peaceful future in London, is forced to explore the dark and fantastical world of London Below after he saves a strange, young girl named Door, as his life is disrupted in unimaginable ways. Can he ever go back home again? Can he get his normal life ever again? 
Does your mind voice tell you: whoo, wait up, do I know this? When Richard does down to London Below from London, maybe you get reminded of when Alice (Alice in Wonderland) went down a hole into a whole new subterranean fantasy land. Or, when Richard wonders if he ever can get back home to his normal life, or when Door finally sends him back at the end of the book to his home using Black Friar's key- you just see a darker shade of Dorothy Gale (The Wizard of Oz) waiting to slip on those magic silver shoes to get her back home.
The subtle references don't stop here. Gaiman sprinkles a generous amount of Alice in Wonderland references with his own, dark magical twists to it. Mind you, this is no simple retelling. Gaiman writes a compelling, original, fresh piece of urban fantasy which weaves an incredible world out of contemporary perspectives and stunning magic. 
The beauty in this genre is how fantasy breaks the stereotypical boundaries of merely elves and dwarves, witches and wizards, and interlaces it with elements we are all familiar with. You wonder, does that bring down the magic of fantasy itself?
I can only ask you to read Neverwhere to understand it's gripping dark beauty, because Gaiman is an author who understands the pulse of urban fantasy so well that he can tell you what you know, make references you know, draw unimaginably creative parallels that reveal itself for the more passionate readers, and still leave you feeling something deep, original, and mindbogglingly fresh.

If you know me a bit through conversations or my blog, you'd know what a sucker I am for classic fantasy: take the world of Tolkien's Middle-Earth, or King's Mid-world. And, being a die-hard fan of  classic fantasy, do I enjoy urban fantasy? Absolutely, and the sole credit goes to the breathtaking narrations that result from skillful storytelling, and how the magical elements effortlessly weave themselves into our contemporary set-up.

It's not just Gaiman's Neverwhere that stands testament to this brilliant genre. Rivers of London and Midnight Riot both by Ben Aaronovitch, and Burn by Patrick Ness are all some of my favourites. 

Gaiman's Neverwhere was the first authentic novel in this genre that I had read, and it has left a lasting impression on me. No wonder it is hailed as a classic in modern fantasy. Trust me, this one makes you plunge into the world that lies below the seemingly innocent streets of London, drowns you in a trance-imaginative state as you explore London Below's Down Street and Floating Market at Harrods, and leaves you with a truly satisfying ending.

If you want an immersive fantastical experience that is newfangled and familiar at the same time- this is the genre for you that weaves this oxymoron into a homogeneous blend of pure genius. If you love fantasy, you have to try it. If you already have, tell me what you love about it, and why don't you give me some titles and authors you love?

What to look forward to? After a happy, magical escape into fantasy world today, let's contrast it with a discussion on books that ground you to reveal reality, harsh as it is. How about we talk on The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck this Thursday? He has always been one of my all-time favourite authors.
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