So did you know that there was a sort of missing Neverwhere chapter? Well there is, and “How The Marquis Got His Coat Back” is it. I experienced it as an audio work, it being produced by the same folk who produced the recent exemplary BBC series that I reviewed here. Given the tone of this audio work, I’m assuming it was produced at the same time as the Neverwhere series was.
It was first published in Rouges, a fat anthology of stories edited by Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin some seven years back. It’s included in Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text, my favorite edition of which is illustrated by Chris Riddell.
Unfortunately the audio work doesn’t include the brief introduction by the author explaining the writing of the story, so I’ll note it here. He started the story, according to his introduction, in 2002 but abandoned it until after he heard the finished copy of the BBC Neverwhere series eleven years later. He also briefly mentioned in this introduction that he’s working on a longer Neverwhere sequel called the Seven Sisters. Still no word when it’s coming out.
The Marquis’ Coat is a Magical Item that gives him his powers and indeed makes him the Marquis de Carabas. Yes, he named himself after the fictional nobleman in the Puss in Boots story which first shows up in the works of Italian author Giovanni Francesco Straparola, who included it in The Facetious Nights of Straparola (c. 1550–1553). It takes place right after right after he loses his life and his coat, and after he comes back from the dead.
So what happens here? Ahhhh that would be telling, and it’s only an hour long so if I did tell what happens, then you wouldn’t have anything to discover, would you? Suffice it to say that he visits a Floating Market and has a conversation with Old Bailey, both of which lead him off on a very strange adventure. It wouldn’t be telling to say that he gets his coat back though.
Neil Gaiman’s “How The Marquis Got His Coat Back” is a fun appetiser of a story though it really should be put back into Neverwhere: The Author’s Preferred Text where it really belongs instead as an appendix at the end, or as a separate audio story, as it’s really just a chapter within that greater story. It’s wonderfully played here by the cast of Paterson Joseph, Bernard Cribbins, Samantha Beart, Adrian Lester, Mitch Benn and Don Warrington with a special appearance by Neil Gaiman as he always does in his radio productions.