Neverwhere by possibly my favourite contemporary writer, Neil Gaiman, is about a reg’lar chap who lives a reg’lar life in London, complete with a normal job and a normal (if slightly, ok excessively, overbearing) fiancée. Then an injured girl on the street quite literally opens doors for him. All at once he finds himself in the London Below which is an entirely different and separate world from what he knows.
I really think that Gaiman probably has my favourite voice (and I don’t just mean when he speaks out loud, although in all fairness the man has won audio book awards) of all time. The main character, Richard Mayhew, is at first convincingly BORING to the point that you almost (but not quite) empathize with his domineering fiancée. And he continues to be quite unremarkable when facing a girl who can open all doors and create openings where there were none, and a hunter woman who is absolutely lethal. But he quietly and almost reluctantly wins battles on his own and starts to become the hero that he never knew he was.
This sort of character development really reminded me of Glory Road by Robert Heinlein, which I read recently. I’m quite sure I liked Neverwhere better, if only because I felt it had better characters; that is, more developed and just more interesting in general. Definitely exciting – I read it in just a few hours because I couldn’t put it down!