Written by Maria Anwar
A young boyish looking man named Richard Mayhew, who lives in a small Scottish town, has to move to London for his new job. The night before he had to leave, he and his friends celebrate with drinks at a pub, Richard who was now drunk and sick, comes out and sits on the pavement for a breath of fresh air. Here he meets an old woman who initially mistakes him for a homeless person. The old woman offers to read Richard’s palm and predicts that he will go much farther than London. She also warns him to beware of “doors” and says that though he has a good heart; it doesn’t guarantee he’ll be safe wherever he goes.
Once in the capital city, Richard is absorbed by the hustle and bustle and becomes a ordinary worker drone. Richard owns a small flat, has a mundane job and a demanding fiancée Jessica, who keeps him around only because she sees in him a certain amount of potential; not in the sense what Richard can become but in what she can manipulate him into becoming. Jessica has expensive tastes, a penchant for architecture and shopping. She owns a luxury apartment in a posh area. Jessica is bossy, ambitious and materialistic.
Once when Richard had to accompany Jessica on a dinner with her boss Mr. Stockton, he forgets to make reservation for it at the restaurant. The dinner is very important for Jessica’s career so she gets angry and impatient with Richard’s forgetful careless attitude. Later that evening while hurrying towards the restaurant for the dinner, they come across a wounded girl lying on the sidewalk. Richard tries to pick her and finds that she’s bleeding; he decides to take her home so that she can be treated. But Jessica threatens him that the dinner is more important, and if he will prefer a homeless beggar to Jessica’s career, she will break the engagement. Richard feels it’s cruel to leave a bleeding person lie on the road, so he ignores Jessica and heads back to his flat.
After the injured girl spends a night at Richard’s flat, she looks fine in the morning. She tells Richard that her name is Door and she belongs to a parallel world London Below which lies on the underside of the London Above. Door reveals that London Below occupies the lost corners and hidden places of the London Underground, has magic and monsters, and is inhabited by the homeless and lost people. Door tells Richard that she is being hunted by some very dangerous people Vandemar and Croup, who have murdered her family and now aim to kill her for some reason.
Door has a mysterious way of talking to rats and birds, she asks Richard to locate a man named Marquis de Carabas for her help. Richard encounters Marquis de Carabas in a dark alley, who agrees to help Door as he owes her family a favour. Marquis convinces Richard to follow him down a sewer through a ladder, which leads them to a rooftop, where they meet a seemingly insane bird-obsessed man named Old Bailey. The marquis tells Old Bailey that he owes him a big favour, and hands him a silver box to keep safe for him. Later Richard returns to his flat with the Marquis, Door thanks him for his kindness and leaves. Richard expecting life to be back to routine discovers that people on the roads cannot see him anymore; coming to his office he finds that none of his colleagues including Gary recognize him, as if he never existed. Jessica seems to have forgotten him and the Realtors show his flat to potentials buyers. He has actually been touched by London Below and is now no more a resident of what Door called London Above.
Richard thinks that the only option to get back to his life is to find Door; who must know a solution to his problem. Looking for Door in the dark corners and alleys of the city, Richard descends into London Below, where a man Lord Rat-Speaker, who worships rats, assigns a rat-speaker girl Anaesthesia to accompany Richard to the floating market, where he can find Door. Almost everyone seems to know Door because her father, the late Lord Portico, was head of the House of Arch. On their way to floating market, Anaesthesia tells Richard that she came to London Below when she was orphaned. Since she had no place to go, was homeless and lived under flyovers; the rats found her and brought her to this place. During their journey a beautiful Amazonian woman named Hunter also joins them. Hunter is a professional; warrior and bodyguard who helps Richard find the floating market. While three of them pass through the terrifying Night’s bridge, Anaesthesia is swallowed by the living darkness; Richard is grieved and keeps a bead from her necklace to remind him of her. Meanwhile Door and de Carabas go to Door’s house, where she cries in memory of her murdered family, especially her dead father Lord Portico. She locates his journal in which her father is asks her to go to Islington, who knows everything.
Reaching the floating market, Richard comes to know through Old Bailey that the Marquis is holding auctions to hire a bodyguard for Door. Hunter fights all candidates, and wins. She easily gets the job of Door’s bodyguard. Richard learns that in London Below a watch is useless, there’s no currency and people buy and sell like barter trade. Richard is tired of walking in the dark sewers and tunnels. When he complains about how he is going to go back to his life, Door promises him that after her troubles are over, she’ll definitely find a way out for Richard too. Door somehow feels that Angel Islington might have an answer to why her family was killed. Next they meet an aging half-mad noble called Earl in the “Earl’s court”, which is a train that travels along the Tube lines in London Below. The Earl gives them directions to the Angelus. Carabas goes to Old Bailey again. He shows Bailey the statue of the black boar he had picked from Door’s house, Bailey tells him that it’s the Great Beast of London, which has been living in the sewers for more than three hundred years, nobody has ever been successful in killing it.
In British Museum Door locates the Angelus on the stage and opens it with her magical powers. Angel Islington is something Richard had not seen before, he never believed in angels. The angel gives them a quest to retrieve a special key which is hidden somewhere in the strangeness of London Below. Richard, Hunter and Door proceed to the Abbey of the Black Friars. There they come to know that each of them has to go through a trial in order to earn the key. Richard is faced with the most difficult trial called the “Ordeal.” The Ordeal is an hour, though it seems like an eternity to Richard. Richard is locked in a room, where his mind is toyed with. He’s made to question his sanity repeatedly; he cannot differentiate between reality and hallucination and when he’s at the verge of committing suicide he hears Anaesthesia’s voice telling him to stop. He survives the Ordeal by coming back to his senses. The Black Friars congratulate him, and hand him the key. Richard joins Hunter and Door who feel Richard doesn’t look boyish anymore; rather he has grown up in some sense.
Meanwhile Marquis tries to ask Vandemar and Croup who they’re working for and why they’re after Door, both cut-throats give him dodgy replies and eventually kill him. They throw his body in the sewers. Right at this point, the silver box which Marquis had given Old Bailey starts glowing with a red light, signaling that he’s in trouble. Islington calls Croup and Vandemar that Door has the key that he wants to break free from prison, thus she should reach him unharmed. At the market Door makes a duplicate of the key, and then Richard, Hunter and Door leave for Angel Islington’s place. Old Bailey comes to floating market and buys de Carabas’ dead body from Sewer folk’s stall. Later he brings Marquis back to life through the silver box. Hunter, Door and Richard encounter Vandemar and Croup on their way, who beat Richard up. At this point Hunter reveals she was the traitor in their group. Since she has brought Door to the cut-throats; she gets a metal spear as a payment. Richard is angry on Hunter’s betrayal. Vandemar and Croup leave with Door, while Richard and Hunter are left behind.
Suddenly Marquis appears there and gets hold of Hunter, who drops the spear and reveals that she is working for Islington. Marquis then makes her lead him and Richard through a marshy labyrinth which is known to harbour The Great Beast of London. Hunter had hunted many beasts and had always wanted to slay this beast with the special spear she received, so when it appears she draws the spear and attacks it, but instead gets injured and drops to the ground. She asks Richard to pick up the spear and attack the beast when it charges again. He attacks it from its side and succeeds in killing it. Hunter calls him the great warrior of London Below and gives him her antique knife as a gift before she succumbs to her wounds. Richard and Marquis then move on to Islington’s prison, where he has captured Door. Vandemar and Croup get hold of Richard and Marquis and ties them up with chains. Islington then confesses that he needed Door because of her power to open any door; he killed her family because her father refused to help Islington in his malicious aims of spreading violence and bloodshed.
When Islington asks Door to hand him the key, she gives the fake duplicate key to him and since he needs her hand to open the door of Heaven, she instead opens the door to a faraway place more like Hell. After Islington, Vandemar and Croup are sucked into that opening and Door closes it. The Black Friars tell Richard, that he can go back to London Above because the key he had secured was the key to all reality. Door asks Richard to stay in London Below as she liked him around, Richard tells her he likes her but this is not where he belongs. Richard leaves for the train station that will drop him off in London Above. The Earl on the train knights Richard with the knife Hunter had given him, he also tells Richard that he doesn’t look boyish anymore and is a Warrior.
Next, when Richard gets out of the train he is happy to find that people can see him; his ATM card is working again. He goes to his building and rents a penthouse, he starts going back to work where people think he was on a vacation. One day Jessica comes to see Richard in his office, and asks if they can be together again but Richard refuses to have her back in his life, as he has changed. In a few days, Richard feels that life in the city is boring; it lacks meaning and excitement of London Below. He tries telling Gary about how experience in London Below changed him, but Gary calls him insane. Rather Gary states that the reality that Richard should acknowledge is that poor always lie at doorsteps of the shops in streets, and even die there when it’s cold in winter. Richard thinks if this is all that people call sanity, and if he is crazy to think otherwise, then he doesn’t want to be sane. He then tries scratching the street wall with his knife in the shape of a door, and calls Door to come and take him back. The moment he starts banging the wall with his hands, he sees an opening in it, where Marquis welcomes him back to London Below and Richard leaves with him for another world.