The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Published by William Morrow Books on June 18, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 178
Source: A fellow book blogger sent me this book!
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five-stars

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

 

An Englishman returns to his childhood home for a funeral, and is reminded of the farm at the end of the street. He was seven years old when he first visited that farm and met a girl named Lettie Hempstock, who protected him from the terrifying, mystical events he recounts now, forty years later.

Wait…did I just read a fantasy novel? And love it?! Fantasy is the one genre I’ve always wanted to enjoy, but 99.9% of the time, I find I just can’t stomach it. I would say this felt more like literary fiction and magical realism, but the elements of fantasy are absolutely there. No denying it.

This novella is my first Neil Gaiman read. I now understand why so many people are enthusiastic about his writing! It is ravishing. His sentences swept me away, and I was completely lost in the story from beginning to end. Impeccable pacing: Gaiman knows just when to crank up the tension, just when to give the reader a reprieve. Master storyteller, indeed.

Phenomenal read. I especially recommend The Ocean at the End of the Lane to anyone else who enjoys magical realism, but is on the fence about fantasy.

I want to read more fantasy novels like this. Give me your suggestions! Is there another Gaiman title I shouldn’t miss?

five-stars