Neverwhere: The Author's Preferred Text

Published by:

ISBN: 978-0-06-196494-7
Edition size: 1,000 numbered
MSRP: $200.00

Awful Books is proud to present C. Thomson's review of William Morrow's limited edition of Neil Gaiman's cherished novel, Neverwhere: The Author's Preferred Text.

A bit of history is probably warranted before proceeding to the review. As diligent readers of this site will be aware, Hill House (HH) had planned one of their usual breathtaking limiteds of this title. However, when it became apparent that HH was about to go six feet under, Neil Gaiman himself scrambled to find an alternative publisher for this, his preferred text of one of his most revered books. HH had already heavily advertised their edition and had even took preorder money (similar to The Martian Chronicles). Gaiman is quite loyal to his fans and was well aware that a limited was expected by those fans after HH's aborted effort, especially from die-hards who had remitted preorder funds to HH. Rather than refund that money, Gaiman vigorously pursued a publisher committed to producing a striking limited-edition and vowed to deliver such into the hands of his reader base.

I don't quite know how William Morrow (WM) wound-up with publishing duties, but it's possible Gaiman became gun-shy of the whole small press scene after the HH debacle and wanted a large, established company to take over the reins. Usually, the larger the company, the less ornate and polished a limited-edition tends to be. However, amazingly WM came through with flying colors and manufactured a limited that, while probably not as fancy as what HH had planned, was still an extremely attractive and competent product. As a big bonus, those that had preordered with HH had their orders fulfilled by WM free of charge.

The specs are rather impressive:

So there's a bit of history behind this edition. I'm sure you're eager to get to the review itself, so without further ado...

NEVERWHERE: The Author's Preferred Text
Review and Pictures by C. Thomson

What is the best way to dive into a well known author's works for the first time? A sensible solution would be to borrow a friend's copy of a story he or she really likes or read sample text online somewhere. Of course for me I decided to gamble it all and purchase the deluxe signed limited of a story that sounded interesting...and am I glad I did!

Not only was the story brilliant, but the book itself is a very handsome edition put together by William Morrow that feels very well crafted.

Outside appearance: both the book and slipcase are wrapped in a textured silk; both luxurious and annoying at the same time. A couple of times in and out of the slipcase and normal handling started to see some of the edges become "furry." A minor detail that perhaps adds some character to the already vivid characters on the pages. To finish it off, foil stamping of a door on the front cover shines thru the die-cut rectangle of the slipcase.

Inside appearance: open the cover and a map of the London Underground is displayed (duplicated on the front and back endpapers). Printed in two colors throughout the book (navy colored text with section beginnings, chapter numbers, and flourishes under page numbers in gold), each new section and each new chapter is given a light blue tinted background with a navy margin. Even by chapter 20, I had still not gotten bored with this color scheme.

Since Neverwhere is a relatively short story, and in order to bring the total page count up to 309, additional material was added: an introduction by Neil preceding the story, followed by an entirely different prologue from 400 years before, an acknowledgements section, and the Neverwhere files, which includes some great background material. These files are as follows:

After all the good things mentioned I must say there was no ribbon marker or gilt on the pages, which would have really made this edition pop. The silk is a little bothersome, and at times when opening the book it sounds like the glue around the spine is doing something other than keeping things close together. Lastly, cutting a hole in the slipcase with no other adornments makes it feel a tad generic...maybe just throwing the title on the spine would have sufficed, but alas it was not meant to be.

The verdict from two points of view. (1) Being one of 1000, even with all the colors and heavy paper and oversized format (7" x 10"), I think the full retail price is a bit steep, but if you can find it cheaper somewhere, even by just 15%, I think it would make a fine addition to anyone's library. Recommended. (2) True Gaiman fan? Does my opinion really matter? Go and get it, you will not regret it, especially with all the extra tidbits at the end. HIGHLY Recommended!

- N U M B E R E D -

Front view within slipcase.

Back of slipcase (same as back of book).

Book fits nicely with no room for movement within slipcase.

Book removed from slipcase.

Silk is wrapped around the die cut and secured inside of case.

Foil stamping on book.

Binding after full read through. Notice on edges how silk is "furry". Also note the lack of a ribbon marker and gilt.

Matching endpapers.

Sweet and simple limitation page.

Brilliantly colored title page.

Copyright page, declaring this edition as a first printing.

Chapter page.

Sample random interior text (pages 130 & 131).

A page number in detail.

Sample page taken from The Neverwhere Files.


Closing Admin Thoughts

I also have a copy of this edition (see My Bookcases and Books) and was pleasantly surprised at WM's attention to detail. While I'm sure HH would've done an even superior job, this is a terrific effort that deserves much praise. However, I do agree with C. Thomson that it would've made things just about perfect if a simple ribbon marker had been added and gilt applied. The latter is a particularly irritating omission, since Neverwhere is generally regarded as a modern-day classic.

(As a bit of conjecture, I always wondered if the slipcase's die-cut window revealing the book's front stamping design was a nod to HH, since HH included that feature with many of their titles.)

My deepest thanks to C. Thomson for the review and pics. Look for more reviews from him in the coming days.