“My journey into London’s underground labyrinth began on a warm July afternoon, in the leafy communal gardens that lay behind the red-brick walls of a mansion block in west London.”

Since we currently can’t explore the real world, I am even more grateful for the existence of books. They not only allow you to explore places you may know well, but also those that you are less likely to be able to get access to – and I don’t just mean Hogwarts or Mars. It’s time to head to London and take a look at what’s going on beneath the surface.

Fiona Rule takes us on a journey beneath London’s facade to explore the world beneath. It’s a tour through the enormous and efficient sewers created by Joseph Bazalgette (which still function as well today as they did in the 1800s), the birth of the world’s first underground railway, and the secret bunkers that held the government during the bombings of the world wars. Along the way we learn how the Tube led to the creation of the British Transport Police, the worst acts of terrorism ever committed on the network, why there are so many abandoned government offices, and see the use of the tube stations as bomb shelters.

My dad is somewhat preoccupied with the question of why, given we’ve excavated so much of London’s sub-surface, the city hasn’t just fallen in on itself, and I increasingly see his point. It seems remarkable today that there was ever a time when we weren’t using the area under any of our cities, but now London is propped up above miles upon miles of tunnels, ferrying trains, people, electric cables, sewage, and even rivers across the metropolis. Rule takes us to bits of the capital that we never see, explaining with a simple, if occasionally dry, touch how this subterranean world works. I like to think I know a lot about this sort of thing, but I had no idea that Bazalgette was building his sewers at the same time as the District Line was trying to be installed, and everyone spent the best part of a decade in each other’s way, as great piles of soil blocked busy streets and routes had to be altered to accommodate both projects.

Elsewhere, we learn about some of the worst accidents that ever occurred underneath London, including the 7/7 bombings, the fire at King’s Cross Station, the crash at Moorgate station, and the death of many trying to build Brunel’s tunnels under the Thames. We discover the Post Office Railway, which transported everyone’s letters and parcels across the city until 2003, and the legendary Necropolis Railway, which took coffins and mourners out to a cemetery on the edge of the city when everything got too crowded within the border.

It’s a fascinating look at a world that most of us take for granted and only see a small portion of.

Did you know that as well as reviewing everything I read, I also write novels, too? My books blend black humour with light horror, crossing genres with ordinary characters dealing with extraordinary circumstances. Head over to wherever you buy books to take a look at my two offerings. The first, The Atomic Blood-stained Bus, introduces you to a cannibal, an ex-god and the last witches of Britain, while the second, The Third Wheel, follows Dexter who is tired of being single while all his friends get married and settle down, but has a change of priority when aliens invade the planet. I hope you enjoy!