Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman

1028 Words Dec 10th, 2013 5 Pages
Down to a Sunless Sea by Neil Gaiman

Down to a Sunless Sea is short story written by Neil Gaiman and published in the British newspaper The Guardian on March 22nd 2013. Taking place in London, this story describes a rainy encounter on the banks of the Thames which unlocks a tale of loss and grief.

The setting is London. Presumeably 18th or early 19th century based on how the Thames is described as extremely filthy and filled with the bodies of cats and dogs. Also the mention of the so-called mudlarks: people who scavenge in river mud for items of value. This term is especially used to describe those who scavenged this way in London during the late 18th and 19th centuries.
So, on the docks of Rotherhithe a woman encounters you. She
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She sees you and she begins to talk, not to you, oh no, but to the grey water from the grey sky into the grey river.”, where we see repetitions in both the first and the last parts of the sentence.

The narrator of Down to a Sunless Sea is an omniscient third-person narrator. He or she knows everything. For example in the beginning of page 2, where we are told that “… there are no mudlarks over fifteen years of age.”. Knowledge like this wouldn’t be available to the normal person, but because the narrator is omniscient, he or she knows this. Another example is seen right below our first example. The woman walks the Rotherhide docks as she has done for years and decades – nobody knows many years, because nobody cares.
The role of the narrator is to convey the story to the audience. Had the narrator of this story been a first-person narrator – something that could have been done very easily by removing the you and replacing it with a first-person narrator – it would have changed the very feel and mood of the story.

Down to a Sunless Sea is quick and chilling read that does its job well. The ending, perhaps, left a little bit to be desired but also has its charm in that the reader has to interpret the open ending by him or herself. A short, eerily creepy and chilling to the bone read that benefits from its extremely descriptive language and clever use of interpreting the reader into the
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